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Bad Check Writers Get Monkey-Wrenched
Bad check writers are opportunists that stay on the fringes of crime. They know how to manipulate the system to their advantage. They know and take advantage of the overworked and paper-heavy judicial agencies responsible for check collections. They lie, push, delay and make numerous excuses in an attempt to avoid or delay paying off their bad checks.
County agencies assigned to collect bad checks are doing the best they can. However, because of the sharp increase in numbers of citizens choosing this form of crime, the agencies are becoming over worked. In many counties the number of checks being turned in for collections is increasing while the percentage of collections is dropping. Many check writers are using the system as a credit free loan agency by negotiating time and monthly payments; causing further expenses to the county.
The National Retail Merchants Association is alarmed at the double digit increase in check losses. They say that worthless checks represent the largest increase in retail theft. The majority of check writers would not think of shoplifting but rationalize check writing because they "intend" to pay it back. Check losses and workloads on counties will only continue to increase unless affirmative action is taken.
One method that many courts and district attorneys have found particularly effective for the past two decades is requiring offenders to attend a bad check class. Many of these counties show dramatic drops in recidivism among bad check writers in their communities. Travis County, Texas, for example, reported that initially 40 to 50% of the bad checks filed with their office had been written by repeat offenders. After running bad check classes, the recidivism rate dropped to between 5 and 10%. The results have been an increase in collections, fewer losses to the community, less paper work, reduced court dockets, plus helpful budgeting and counseling to the offenders.
The American Community Corrections Institute (ACCI), a provider of bad check course materials, explains that the classes work by throwing "a psychological monkey-wrench into their mental gears" and that this causes offenders anxiety and fear about re-offending. They report that their course materials disrupt and confuse offenders' criminal thinking and thereby acts as a strong deterrent to keep them from repeating. Whether or not the courses actually work this way or not is not clear, but what is clear is that remarkable results are being enjoyed using them.
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