A Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting investigation has found that the state system for compensating victims of non-violent crimes is overburdened, uncoordinated and promises what it can’t deliver. For example, in Cumberland County alone, convicted criminals are $2.6 million behind on restitution payments.
“The system is imperfect and we know it,” said Judge Charles LaVerdiere, chief judge of the Maine District Court.
He said that as a judge in Maine, he’s found that the “vast majority” of people who come to court and agree to restitution payments find out later that they don’t have the ability to pay as promised. Continue Reading →
For Linda Descoteaux of Saco, the last nine years have been full of calls, letters and promises from Maine courts that go unfulfilled.
When a man defrauded her of $4,000 in 2005, the York County district attorney’s office sent her a letter saying he’d pay her back part of what he stole by 2009.
“[H]e will pay you restitution in the amount of $1,500 by the 46th month of probation,” wrote York County Courthouse Assistant District Attorney Patrick Gordon in a letter dated September, 7, 2005.
Since then, she said she’s only received a single $110.66 check. Continue Reading →
District attorneys from across the state are as frustrated as crime victims with the fundamental reality of the restitution system in Maine: it's broken. Maine crime victims are waiting for millions of dollars – perhaps as much as $12 million – in payments ordered by the courts from the people who stole their money, broke into their car or burglarized their home. Continue Reading →
In 1977, the Maine legislature amended the state criminal code to require courts to consider ordering restitution because it can “reinforce the offender's sense of responsibility,” let him pay back his debt to society and the victim, and “ease the burden of the victim.” But 37 years later, this has long been easier said than done, with those assigned the task of collecting restitution pointing to the futility of trying to get money from poor offenders. They cite a variant of the cliché: “It’s like trying to get blood from a turnip.” Continue Reading →
Used originally to promote development in blighted areas, TIFs are increasingly being used by towns as a method to protect their share of state aid. Continue Reading →
Put an addition on your house, and the town assessor will come around, increase the value of your house and your property taxes will go up. Get a TIF, and you, too, have to pay taxes on that new warehouse or factory – but the taxes don’t help pay for the schools, plowing and cops. Continue Reading →
It has been just over a year since former University of Southern Maine president Selma Botman got a new job. Continue Reading →
From 1994 to mid-2011, Chellie Pingree’s total contributions to candidates running for national office were $2,950.
But from June 2011 to last November — a period of only 17 months — the Democratic congresswoman from Maine’s first district donated $105,600 to Democratic candidates to Congress and to the party committees that funnel donations to candidates.
Continue Reading →
AUGUSTA – Over the past 50 years, Maine legislatures and governors have added millions of dollars in tax breaks for businesses without ever doing the detailed analysis to find out which are effective and which are wasteful.
But now that may be changing. Continue Reading →
Four years ago, when the University of Maine System was cutting programs to save money, officials were criticized for not, instead, making up the shortfall by taking money from System reserves. Continue Reading →