Assessing the impact of statutory change: A statewide multilevel analysis of restitution orders in Pennsylvania

R. Barry Ruback, Gretchen R. Ruth, Jennifer N. Shaffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


This research analyzed decisions in 170,260 restitution-eligible cases in Pennsylvania from 1990 to 1998 to infer the policies underlying the imposition of restitution when it was discretionary and to assess whether a 1995 statutory change making restitution mandatory changed those policies. Multilevel analyses of restitution decisions from the 1990-1994 prestatutory change period suggested that judges considered restitution to be both a victim-focused sanction, in that restitution was ordered more for offenders who committed more serious crimes and for property offenders (whose crimes could be more easily quantified), and an offender-focused sanction, in that restitution was ordered more for offenders who pleaded guilty, offenders with no prior record, White offenders, and female offenders. The statutory change increased the proportion of restitution orders statewide from 1996 to 1998. Moreover, it appeared to meet the policy goal of greater focus on victims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)318-342
Number of pages25
JournalCrime and Delinquency
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2005


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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