Writer's Note: Recently, while covering the speeches of two candidates, Danny Lohmann and Chris Boring, who are running for the soon to be vacated District Attorney seat for District 26, I misrepresented one of the departments within the District Attorney's office.
I referred an entity formerly known as the "Bogus Check Division", which is a department we no longer have and haven't had for 13 years.
The correct name of the department, which now handles bogus checks and numerous other important functions within the District Attorney's office, is correctly known as the Restitution and Diversion Division (RAD).
I set up a meeting with RAD Director Jane Stanley to learn more about this multifaceted department that serves the county.
It's mid morning Thursday in an office tucked behind Woodward's Lakeside Six movie theater.
Seven women go about a host of different tasks, all designed, in some way, to help citizens who have been victims of property or violent crimes.
The office also oversees the perpetrators of those crimes, whether adjudicated or not, to ensure they are performing the rules and conditions of their pleas in the court, said 18 year veteran DA office employee and RAD Director Jane Stanley.
But what does all that legal speak really mean about this division of the District Attorney's office?
"We do so much more than bogus checks here now," Stanley said. "We have been trying to get the word out for years now that we are no longer the bogus check division. It matters to us they know what we are really doing."
Years ago, the Bogus Check Division handled, well, bogus check restitution.
In 2001 though, the legislation voted to divert property crimes and the task of overseeing the restitution for those crimes, to the Bogus Check Division and changed its name - It became the Restitution and Diversion program - effectively combining the job of making sure that all restitution for all crimes be handled out of the new division,
"And of course, that made sense because really, bogus checks are a property crime," Stanley said. "But bogus checks are really a very small portion of the restitution that comes out of this office."
In 2013 while performing all of its functions of restitution, the women of RAD returned $486,425.04 to Woodward County citizens. Of that, about $139,000 was a result of bogus check reimbursement, Stanley said.
The majority was restitution related to property crimes and some was restitution for other crimes, she said. For instance, in an assault case, where a victim might have medical bills, the restitution paid by the perpetrator would be to pay those costs the victim would not have otherwise had, Stanley said.
"In 2013, for all five counties in the district, we returned $805,000 in total to crime victims," Stanley said.
So that means that every single day, there is someone making sure that citizens who suffer losses because of someone else's crime have hope of recovering some of the value of their losses, Stanley said.
For instance, let's say someone ran over your newly constructed mail box and you saw the incident and got a tag number. You could ostensibly call the RAD division and report this directly to them and they would contact the individual and arrange for restitution, Stanley said.
"Or, you could report it through the police," she said.
Here is how the reporting system works through the police:
1. Police make a report
2. The report is sent to the Assistant District Attorney's office at the court house
3. The ADA makes a determination on how to handle it based on the criminal history of the individual who allegedly ran over the mail box.
4. If there is no history or a minor history, the ADA could then decide to contact RAD and have the restitution handled through that office.
Sounds simple enough, right? But just in case you are beginning to get a vision of a bunch of women who crunch numbers all day, that couldn't be further from the truth.
Because in November of 2003, the division was again tasked with another job that, up to then, was falling through the cracks, Stanley said.
"Because of the great number of defendants who plea but who were not being supervised (because they were not on parole or probation, but merely had pled with conditions such as DUI School or counseling), the DA's office became the supervisor of those individuals," Stanley said.
So in addition to making sure each person who must, is making their restitution payments, the office also tracks individuals who have plea agreements and make sure they meet the conditions of their plea.
At present, the Woodward office handles 4,436 individuals. Of those, only 274 are individuals who have passed bogus checks, she said.
The rest are individuals who every 28 days are tracked by a RAD case worker, who ensures they have attended the counseling, the schools, the inpatient treatment or whatever is the condition of the plea, she said.
For Stanley, who has been with the division since 1996, the tasks the women of her office perform are key to the community's success and the health of the people here. They are, in a way, a labor of love.
"You know, restitution matters here. Because any community is as strong as its tax base and its tax base is only as strong as its businesses. In a small area, like Woodward and Alva, they can not withstand the effects of huge property crime losses," Stanley said. "It's important what these ladies do and I am so proud of what they accomplish every day."