My child is an inmate at a Department of Corrections’ state prison. I am being asked to send $60 so the "Victims Compensation Fund" can be paid before my child can be released. What is this $60 for?
There are two fees currently totaling $60 on dockets from the counties which, by law, must be paid before any other fine, court cost, fee or restitution is paid on that docket. These mandatory fees are also on every speeding ticket or summary appeal. They are combined with other required fees. For example, if someone is issued a speeding ticket, that fine is $50, but the total of the ticket is approximately $200 because of the fines, fees and costs added to it.
Part of those fees are the Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund (CVCF); the other portion is for the Victim Witness Service Act. These help fund victim/witness programs, shelters and reimburse out-of-pocket expenses for crime victims who may not be receiving restitution yet or at all in their case.
The way the collections law for these two fines is written, these fines are paid before anything else in the case. The PA Board of Probation and Parole requires these fines to be paid before an inmate is released from an SCI on parole.
If any dockets are set up for collection regarding the other costs, fees, fines and/or restitution, 20% of the monies sent to your loved one will be deducted automatically and put towards that debt.
As an example: If an inmate is serving a sentence for a crime of theft and owes the county $500 in costs/fees and $100 in restitution to the victim of the crime. The total amount is $600 minus the $60 mandatory victim’s compensation fee. DOC will deduct 20% of all incoming monies to the inmate’s account until that payment is satisfied. If the inmate has a DOC job working in the kitchen and the inmate receives a $50 paycheck, DOC will deduct $10. If an inmate is sent $100, DOC will deduct $20.
This money collected by the DOC is sent back to the sentencing county to have the payment recorded into the docket and is then put towards the appropriate parties—including the crime victims owed restitution.
Depending on when your loved one arrived at DOC determines how much money he or she makes working inside the prison and how much money sent to him is deducted from the inmate’s for these fines and the rest of the case. One of two different options may happen:
• 20% is deducted for CVCF and for costs/fines/restitution off of the top of any incoming deposit made to an inmate’s account
• 50% is deducted for CVCF until it is paid in full, then 20% starts for costs/fines/restitution
The Unified Judicial System of PA Web Portal provides details for the fines/costs/restitution for each case.
To use the Unified Judicial System of the Pennsylvania Web Portal
Click on the DOCKET SHEETS button on the right side of the page. (The bolded Public Web Docket Sheets gives several options. Court of Common Pleas covers sentenced cases.)
Use the drop down menu to decide the type of search. (Use Participant Name and select “Criminal” for the Docket Type in the drop down menu will yield the most search results.)
A new screen will open that lists a number of cases. A docket number appears as CP-01-CR-1234-2015. There is a magnifying glass. Move the cursor onto the left of the docket number. With the cursor placed, two options appear: “Docket Sheet” or “Court Summary.” Choose DOCKET SHEET.
Another new screen will come up with the actual docket. It can be several pages long. Near the end of the document, there is a section entitled “Court Financial Information.” This displays if the fees are paid.
Both the inmate and the DOC will have payment information on record.