New unit will help recover money owed to crime victims

By Staff
Melissa Cason, FCT Writer
Franklin County has joined many Alabama counties in creating a restitution recovery unit through the district attorney's office.
The new unit created a full-time position in the Franklin County District Attorney's office. Twenty-two year Sheriff's department veteran Mike Mayfield has been hired to head the recovery efforts.
The unit works on recovering money owed to victims of criminal activity as well as collecting unpaid fines and court costs, Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing said.
"Alabama passed a law in 1995 which allows restitution recovery efforts through the district attorney's office," Rushing said.
Franklin is one of the last counties in the state to create such a program to recover fines and money owed to victims, Rushing added.
"Since coming into office in 2005, I always wanted to institute a program to recover money for victims," Rushing said.
Circuit Judge Terry Dempsey signed an order officially establishing the restitution recovery unit March 2.
In the past week, Mayfield began working on getting money owed to the county and victims from those ordered to pay.
Mayfield has a list of 926 cases, totaling $680,000.
"Some of the cases that still owe money date back to the mid 1990s," Rushing said.
Under this new program, cases that are over 90 days past due will be given to the restitution recovery unit to be collected.
The unit also allows fines and other restitution to be paid out in installments instead of all at once like it has been in the past, Rushing said.
"There will be an additional fee of 30 percent added to the amount once our unit takes over," Mayfield said.
Seventy-five percent of the additional fees collected with go to further fund the program through the district attorney's office while the other 25-percent goes to circuit clerk's office for their efforts in reporting those who are delinquent.
"We appreciate all the clerk's office does in assisting the DA's office with this program," Rushing said.
Mayfield will work a flexible schedule but Summer Barnes will be available to help set up payments of restitution by calling the office at 332-8874.
"We encourage anyone who knowingly owes fines, or other restitution to contact our office to get a payment plan worked out," Mayfield said.