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Some Find Crime Does Not Pay In Timely Manner

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Little Check
HENDERSON, N.C. — Every year, North Carolina courts collect nearly $200 million for people. However, rules for restitution vary county to county and some victims of crime say the system does not pay, but one lawmaker is demanding changes.

When Jim Finn's car was vandalized in 2001, he did not expect a headache four years later. He got a $3.60 check for court-ordered restitution. At that rate, Finn will get the entire $173.45 he is owed by 2007.

"I figured I was going to get a check. It turns out I've gotten many checks -- many, tiny little checks," Finn said. "I would love my money back."

Finn is one of 11 victims who each get a percentage of a $150 monthly payment. If a judge does not order restitution to be paid first, court and attorney fees take top priority. District Attorney Sam Currin said he does not like it, but he understands it.

"There is a certain amount of money that has to be portioned out to keep our system going," he said.

That system is something one lawmaker is trying to change. Rep. Rick Eddins, R-Wake, is sponsoring a

bill for a statewide system

that could pay victims first and possibly make checks bigger.

"It's been a hodgepodge of rules put together. There's nothing uniform," he said.

Eddins' bill is in committee. He feels his bill is especially important for victims of more serious crimes. He thinks a vote may happen this session.


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