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Abstract

In the complex structure often inappropriately designated the system of criminal justice,a there are few visible signs of consideration for the party who suffers most from criminal activity-the victim. Yet, historically, this was not always the situation, nor is it necessarily true today in countries other than the United States. Even in the United States compensation plans for victims of crime have been passed by a few state legislatures, and most state statutes on probation allow restitution by the criminal to his victim as a condition thereof. In addition, at the less visible levels of the criminal legal process, restitution is an accepted and pervasive practice, but little is known and less is written about that practice. This article is an attempt to make visible the pervasiveness of the practice of criminal restitution in the United States. In so doing, it traces the historical roots of criminal restitution to the period of community composition, and then explores the contemporary use of restitution in the present administration of criminal justice.

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