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Victim Offender Reconciliation
After more than 20 years, this program has been suspended due to lack of funding. Prior to its termination in July 2004, CJI's Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program was one of the oldest, continuously-operating programs of its kind in North America. While the program is no longer operational, the principles upon which it was based are fundamental to CJI's philosophy and CJI continues to offer training based on the agency's experience.
The idea of victim offender reconciliation had a Canadian genesis. It was the brainchild of Dave Worth and Mark Yantzi, two young Kitchener, Ontario men. The process brings together victims and offenders, and functions to address the facts and feelings in a case from the point of view of each of the principal participants. While there are impressive statistics documenting offenders' completion of the agreements negotiated in these meetings, the primary benefit recorded by both victims and offenders is "the opportunity for the offender to meet the one he or she had wronged" (Gibson, 1986).
The VORP Process
Victim-offender reconciliation is a process through which a trained mediator, often a volunteer, brings offenders and victims in a criminal event together to achieve a resolution that is satisfactory to both parties.
Victim-offender reconciliation seeks to...
- identify crime that can be successfully dealt with in the community;
- effect reconciliation and understanding between victims and offenders;
- facilitate the reaching of agreements between victims and offenders regarding restitution;
- assist offenders in directing payment of their 'debt to society' to their victims;
- involve community members in work with problems that normally lead into the criminal justice process.
VORP provides victims with...
- an opportunity to actively participate in the process of resolving the incident.
- a greatly increased chance of receiving restitution and reparation.
- an opportunity to be more fully informed about the incident itself, about the offender and about the criminal justice system and its processes;
- an opportunity to resolve the incident in a peaceful way;
- an opportunity to experience a sense of closure.
VORP provides offenders with...
- an opportunity to be aware of the harm suffered by victims, the human cost and consequences;
- an opportunity to 'make it right' with the victim, to acknowledge responsibility, and to do whatever is reasonable and possible to make amends
- an opportunity to take responsibility in a serious and honest way, often without being left with a criminal record.
- an opportunity to be more fully informed about what is happening and why, about the criminal justice system and its processes, about the impact of his/her actions on the victim(s) and the community, and about options for dealing with charges faced;
- an opportunity equal to that of the victim(s) to fully participate in finding a fair and reasonable way to resolve the incident.
VORP benefits the community by...
- providing community members with an opportunity to develop skills which empower them to resolve present and future conflicts;
- giving community members opportunities to practice their conflict resolution and mediation skills as mediators in criminal and other community conflicts;
- offering a cost-effective means of resolving conflicts within the community;
- increasing the likelihood of deterrence from further irresponsibility through having offenders take direct, face-to-face responsibility for their actions.
VORP provides the criminal justice system with...
- an alternative process for dealing with a significant number of cases which would be unlikely to be resolved in a positive, meaningful way in the courts;
- a low-cost means of resolving a significant number of cases;
- an effective alternative to the court process, helping to reduce crown counsel caseloads and to address the issue of overcrowded court-rooms and lengthy delays;
- an effective way to increase community understanding of, and participation in, the justice system;
- a process that can reduce victim frustrations and anger that would otherwise be projected onto the system itself.