Victim-Offender Dialogue (VOD) maintains a rich history and continues to be a substantial area of growth within the restorative justice field. This practice, informed by historic wisdom, refined by reflective practitioners, and supported by a growing cannon of research, facilitates unimaginably difficult conversations in the pursuits of restoration, understanding, and growth for all involved. It is a practice undertaken by some of our field's most skilled and empathic colleagues.
On the leading edge of this field are those applying victim-offender dialogue for crimes of serious violence (VOD-SV), including rape, incest, spousal abuse, and homicide. Now, thanks to the generosity of some of these practitioners, we can glimpse into this emotion- and tension-filled practice by way of a recent Conflict Resolution Quarterly article.
Co-authored by Lynn S. Urban, Jeananne Markway, and Kay Crockett, "Evaluating Victim-Offender Dialogue for Serious Cases Using Umbreit's 2001 Handbook: A Case Study," is a wonderfully reflective piece glimpsing into the VOD-SV room and recommending opportunities for continued field growth.
Drawing on their article, the characteristics, benefits, and stages of VOD-SVs are outlined below. More substantive sections revealing the Missouri Department of Correction's VOD-SV program statistics, the authors' field recommendations, and identified best practices are now being shared within the Restorative Practices discussion group -- a listserve co-hosted by NAFCM and VOMA. I encourage you to join this group to learn about VOD-SV and other restorative practices, connect with colleagues, and share resources. Participation in this discussion group is open to all those interested in restorative justice theory and practice.
Characteristics of VOD-SV:
- Usually occur several years after the crime;
- Usually occur within a correctional facility; and
- Involve high levels of emotion and tension.
Benefits of VOD-SV:
- High process satisfaction from victims and offenders;
- Opportunities for apology and forgiveness;
- Victims’ safety concerns related to offenders’ release are reduced;
- Less victim opposition to offenders’ release; and
- Offenders are better prepared to re-enter the community.
Stages of VOD-SV:
- Case Development (assessment, contracting, and preparation);
- Victim-Offender Dialogue (pre-dialogue briefing, victim-offender dialogue, and post-dialogue briefing); and
Be part of the deeper VOD-SV and general restorative justice conversations. Join the Restorative Practices discussion group today!
Executive Director, NAFCM