Macon high on list of Georgia cities where crime victims are owed money
MACON, Ga. (WGXA) - The Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) has a new database where victims of crimes can discover whether they are owed restitution.
Jay Neal, executive director of the CJCC, said that Macon ranks fifth on the list of Georgia cities where individuals or businesses are owed money with 170 of the 5,000 total unclaimed restitution cases in the state.
Neal said how this happens is that often times a judge can order a convicted criminal to pay restitution to his/her victim, though it is not always easy to find who is owed that money.
He said that if the victim cannot be located after two years, that money is given to the Crime Victims Compensation Division of the CJCC, which runs the database in an effort to locate those owed money as the result of crimes committed against them.
"Sometimes, victims move without providing forwarding information and, basically, they get lost through that system," Neal said.
Sometimes, he said, a victim may not know about the money he/she is owed because he/she isn't engaged in the legal process or a judge orders the offender to pay restitution following his/her release from incarceration, which can be years after the crime is committed.
"They may have given up on ever receiving any restitution and may not be looking for it, and local entities have a hard time finding them under those circumstances as well," Neal said.
Neal said that Macon may rank so high on the list of Georgia cities where those owed restitution reside because of the size of the city relative to other cities, the amount of crimes committed, and the rate at which judges order restitution to be paid in relation to other cities.
Atlanta is first on the list, followed by Marietta, Savannah and Albany.
Neal said he believes it is important to get the restitution paid to whomever it is owed, whether it is a business or an individual, in order to get justice for victims.
The CJCC is encouraging anyone who has been a victim of a crime in Georgia to check its database to determine whether they are owed restitution. To access the database, click here.
To date, the Victims Unclaimed Restitution Program, for which the database was created, has awarded nearly $250,000 to victims of crimes.