Benton County makes teen convicts pay up

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- For a year now, teen convicts have paid a mandatory fee anytime they go to court.

Being the victim of a burglary is bad enough as it is, but never seeing your stuff back can be more disappointing.

"You just got to take a deep breath and go with the flow... but it sure is hard," says Jim Wade.

A teen criminal not only stole Wade's wedding ring, but also his sense of security.
It's the reason why the former state trooper recognizes the need for criminals to pay up for their crimes.

"It's like a little kid. If you don't slap them at first, they're gonna do it over and over again."

County leaders agree. They're making sure more people don't end up in Wade's shoes. For a year now, Benton County has made juveniles pay a mandatory $100 as soon as they turn 18. It's part of an effort to give victims like Wade the money the deserve in restitution.

Since the mandatory fines were introduced last year, Benton County has reaped more than $100,000 in restitution for crime victims. That compares to the old days, where 90% of all criminals would never pay anything.

"We're hoping to see the increases continue and in the hands of the victims," says County Clerk Josie Delvin.

Benton County workers tell us the $100 fee is modeled after a program in Spokane.

The new rules only apply to offenders who became adults after their sentence.