Project Payback is a juvenile restitution program that was brought to Alachua County in 1997. Juvenile defendants who owe restitution are court-ordered to complete Project Payback as a condition of their probation requirements. The purpose of Project Payback is to increase the amount of restitution being paid back to victims by juvenile defendants. Project Payback has worked to accomplish its mission by developing juvenile employment skills, providing the means for juveniles who are unemployable to pay back their restitution, monitoring restitution payments, and improving the enforcement procedures used by the various juvenile justice agencies.
Prior to the inception of Project Payback, only about $166.00 per month in restitution was collected back to victims of juvenile offenders. Currently, the average amount of restitution being paid back to victims of juvenile offenders is $3,500 per month. Since the inception of Project Payback, over $750,000.00 in restitution has been paid back to victims of juvenile offenders in Alachua County.
Project Payback assists victims by:
v Monitoring monthly compliance of juveniles ordered/referred to Project Payback
v Reporting the compliance status on behalf of the victims in juvenile court
v Requesting enforcement actions for noncompliance
v Making the victim aware when a case has been set for a compliance hearing
v Informing victims about the status of the disposition and compliance dockets
v Providing job skills training (application, job search, interviewing techniques, and résumé preparation) to juveniles in order to facilitate employment as a means of being able to pay back restitution
v Requiring juveniles 16 years and older to be employed or to be actively searching for employment
v Providing juveniles who are unable to become employed (usually because of their age or commitment status) the opportunity to do “community restitution service” hours. For every hour of service that the juvenile completes, $10.00 is paid back to the victim
v Coordinating employment interviews and community activity sites as a means of paying back restitution
Project Payback promotes juvenile employment to deter delinquency
v Requires job search/employment as long as restitution is still owed
v Provides job employability skills training: résumé, job search, applications, mock-interviews, finance management, career goal setting
v Provides money-earning opportunities/employment assistance