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COURT OF APPEALS RULES THAT RESTITUTION PAYMENTS FOR VICTIMS CAN COME FROM PRISON ACCOUNTS CONTAINING GIFTS
 

Van Hollen Calls Decision A Victory For Victims

 

MADISON - Jeremy Greene, convicted in 2002 by a Dane County jury of first degree intentional homicide, armed burglary, and armed robbery, will have to make restitution payments from his prison accounts even if those funds include gifts from friends or family. That is the effect of a ruling yesterday from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

 

"This decision is a victory for crime victims and families of crime victims," said Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. "The whole purpose of restitution is to make crime victims whole, and the court's ruling helps give effect to that purpose."

 

After the jury's guilty verdicts, the circuit court sentenced Greene to life imprisonment with an eligibility date for extended supervision in 2037. The court also issued a restitution order making Greene and two co-defendants jointly liable for restitution in the amount of $13,319.15.

 

The Department of Corrections (DOC) informed the victim's parents that under the restitution order Greene would not be required to make restitution payments until his release on extended supervision, which would be 2037 at the earliest, if ever. The parents brought this information to the circuit court's attention and the circuit court issued an amended restitution order directing DOC to collect and distribute the previously ordered payments from Greene's prison wages, earnings and accounts, rather than waiting until Greene was released on extended supervision.

 

Greene appealed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, arguing that the circuit court did not have authority to order DOC to disburse restitution from his prison accounts because his accounts could include funds that had been given to him as gifts from friends or family members.

 

The court of appeals disagreed with Greene. The Court of Appeals found that the crime victim's restitution statute does not limit the consideration of a defendant's ability to pay restitution to only those funds derived from wages or earnings. Instead, a circuit court has the authority to order a defendant to pay restitution from all of his or her financial resources, including gifted funds available at the time of the restitution order and as funds becomes available to the defendant at a later time. In effect, the court of appeals found that Greene could not shelter gifts from his obligation to pay back his victims, which in the case of a homicide, include family.

 

A copy of the decision can be found at: http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=33019.

 

The State was represented in the Court of Appeals by Assistant Attorney General Sally Wellman.