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Should Victims Have the Right to Meet with Their Offenders? (From Controversies in Victimology, Second Edition, P 73-90, 2008, Laura J. Moriarty, ed. -- See NCJ-225281)

NCJ Number
Cheryl Swanson
Date Published
18 pages
After summarizing evaluation research on victim-offender meetings, this chapter draws conclusions and offers recommendations on this practice.
Although a majority of crime victims may not voluntarily choose to meet with the offenders who harmed them, 25 years of research indicates that victims who choose to participate in such meetings have benefited. Victims’ motives for choosing to meet with offenders are to obtain information from the offender, finding closure, concern for the offender, letting the offender see the impact of the crime, sharing feelings of forgiveness with the offenders, hearing apologies from the offender, and deciding whether to support early release. Studies of victim satisfaction with victim-offender mediation are consistently high, with 80-90 percent of victims expressing satisfaction with the process. This satisfaction holds across time, culture, and the seriousness of the offense. This chapter argues that victims are most likely to benefit from meetings/mediation with offenders when the meetings are voluntary, safe, and involve informed consent from both the victim and the offender. Trained facilitators should assess the appropriateness and timeliness of the meetings. Certain types of cases should be excluded, such as domestic violence, where there is clear and compelling evidence that a meeting is not in the best interests of participants. Unless there is a high probability of empowerment and healing for both victim and offender, a meeting should not be held. As long as the goal of expanding victim-offender meetings is to provide victims with more choices to enhance their well-being and healing, then this issue is worthy of future study and action. 30 references