|Melissa Powell, PAAM President||
As the Iron County Prosecuting Attorney, I’m honored to serve as the president of PAAM. Public perception would suggest Iron County (an Upper Peninsula county of 11,000 people) does not see the violent, heinous crimes that occur in larger counties. I can assure you that counties all across Michigan see many of the same violent crimes, and the same devastation they cause victims; in more ways than one. In fact, over 70% of Michigan’s prisoners are incarcerated for violent and assaultive crimes. Regardless of the crime at hand, we need to remember that a person being victimized just had their lives changed forever. Some will experience post traumatic stress, some will become dependent on alcohol/drugs, some will lose family and friends and some will experience a monetary loss that is devastating. Crime victims have constitutional rights that, unfortunately, seem to get lost in the shuffle.
Given, a priority for me this year is to start a streamlined dialogue with the victim services community, prosecutors, judiciary and legislators regarding restitution reform.
Restitution is not a debt that that the court can waive like court costs. Restitution is a payment from the offender to the victim for the harm caused by the offender’s criminal acts. Victims are constitutionally-owed their restitution. On reports from my court system I have found the outstanding restitution to be a million dollars going back to 2002. In another mid-sized county, the number is around $50 million and in a larger county the number is $23 million.