Crime victims can now collect restitution from criminals' tax refunds

CREATED Apr 2, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - For the first time ever, restitution for crime victims in Milwaukee is being taken out of criminals' tax refunds.

"Collecting from defendants is a very hard thing to do. Frequently they are in jail or they're unemployed," explained John Barrett, Clerk of Circuit Court for the City of Milwaukee.

The court's collection agency has agreed to waive fees in restitution cases, which means money can be taken directly from defendants' tax refunds and sent to victims.

"For instance, a drunken driver in a 2004 felony case ended up having $3,250 taken from his taxes this year," Barrett said.

In another case, a person charged with theft had $2,578 taken from their tax refund; the amount was then sent to the victim.

"It's something that I think is sending a message of additional deterrence to crime, but also, you know, a small victory to the victims in these cases," Barrett said.