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Victim-Offender Reconciliation Programs: Pro and Con

NCJ Number
Perspectives Volume: 20 Issue: 1 Dated: (Winter 1996) Pages: 11-17
A Karmen; C Lindner
Date Published
Restorative justice is practiced in Victim-Offender Reconciliation Programs (VORP's); with the help of mediators, victims who are willing to confront offenders are able to engage in direct negotiations which may lead to restitution arrangements.
The VORP approach to resolving criminal incidents clearly represents a sharp break in the conventional way cases are processed in juvenile and adult courts. Restorative justice experiments involving the alternative dispute resolution model and offered at neighborhood justice centers have been encouraged by the Law Enforcement Administration, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the American Bar Association, the Institute for Mediation and Conflict Resolution, the National Institute for Dispute Resolution, and many other government and private agencies. When successfully implemented, restorative justice holds great promise for probation departments seeking to promote offender rehabilitation, reduce community tensions, and assist victims. Because restorative justice challenges basic tenets of the criminal justice system, the applicability of the restorative justice approach to various criminal situations is discussed. Certain criticisms of the VORP approach are noted that focus on the inequitable treatment of offenders, the release of dangerous offenders back into society, and whether VORP's work to the advantage of both victims and offenders. Difficult policy questions associated with the VORP approach are considered, as well as the need for more experimentation with mediation, restitution, and reconciliation. 41 references