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Victim-Offender Dialogue in Violent Cases: The Texas and Ohio Experience

NCJ Number
Crime Victims Report Volume: 8 Issue: 1 Dated: March/April 2004 Pages: 1-2,14
Mark S. Umbreit Ph.D.; Betty Vos Ph.D.; Robert B. Coates Ph.D.; Kathy Brown Ph.D.
Date Published
March 2004
3 pages
This second in a two-part series on the use of victim-offender dialog (VOD) in cases of violent crime presents program and policy recommendations based on an analysis of findings from studies of the Texas and Ohio experiences with VOD in cases of violent crimes.
Between 1997 and 2001, the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota, in collaboration with the National Organization for Victim Assistance, began a study of VOD in violent and serious crimes. The analysis of the data was completed late in 2002. From the Texas and Ohio experiences with VOD in cases of severe violence, it is clear that the principles of restorative justice can be applied in selected cases of severe violence through victim-offender mediation and dialog. A far more intense case-development process is required, however, and the "dialog-driven" humanistic approach to mediation offers a more victim-sensitive process that is also likely to engage the offender in a dialog about the full impact of the offense. Data from the study show exceptionally high levels of client satisfaction with the process and outcome of victim-offender mediation and dialog when crimes of severe violence are involved. Still, further study and a larger sample size are required to reach firm conclusions. This article outlines questions that should be asked and answered in future research. In the meantime, this article recommends that departments of corrections consider developing procedures for responding to victims' requests for mediation/dialog with inmates. Also, public funding should be appropriated to support the development and management of victim-sensitive offender dialog services for crimes of severe violence. Other recommendations pertain to the training required for mediators in such cases and the policies and procedures involved in planning, developing, and implementing such mediation/dialog services.