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Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy

Victim Offender Dialog

The purpose of victim-offender dialogue (also called victim-offender mediation and victim-offender conferencing) is to facilitate a voluntary conversation between the harmdoer and the parties harmed following an offense. There are usually several parties present at the meeting: the facilitator(s), the harmdoer, the harmdoer's supporters, the parties harmed, supporters or the parties harmed, and any interested or indirectly harmed parties. The goal of VOD / VOC / VOM is to facilitate restoration for all parties materially, emotionally, and perhaps relationally. 

The following process is typically used when facilitating VOD / VOC / VOM: 

  1. The facilitator(s) contact the harmdoer to set up a meeting with the person and the person's supporters. At the meeting, the facilitator(s) ask the harmdoer and the person's supporters to tell their stories of what happened, explain the meeting process and goals with the prospective participants, and gauge their willingness & suitability for meeting.
  2. If the harmdoer & their supporters are willing and able to participate, the facilitator(s) then contact the parties harmed to set up a meeting. The process with the harmed parties & their supporters follows largely the same trajectory as the meeting with the harmdoers. 
  3. If both groups are willing to meet, the facilitator establishes a time and place for meeting that is agreeable and suitable for all parties. 
  4. At the meeting, the facilitator(s) repeats the guidelines and processes described in the preparatory meetings and gains agreement again from both parties as to their willingness to abide by those guidelines and processes.
  5. The facilitator then asks the harmdoer to tell their story, at which point the harmdoer describes their "facts and feelings" and ideally apologizes. The harmed parties then ask the harmdoer questions if they have any.
  6. The harmed parties then tell their stories about their experience of the offense. The harmdoer then asks questions if they have any.
  7. If the supporters wish to describe their experiences, they may then do so.
  8. Following the telling of their stories, the parties then move to negotiating reparation, or what the parties harmed need the harmdoer to do to make things right. Reparation can be monetary (restitution), symbolic (apology, working off what is owed, etc.), and/or relational (forgiveness, reconciliation). The parties then discuss what they may wish to do in the future, such as regularly meeting, promising not to harm each other, etc.
  9. The facilitator writes out the agreement using the parties' words.
  10. All parties then sign the agreement, which is then given to the courts / authorities 

For more information email Dr. Gregory Paul