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Appendix D. Promising Practices

Program Innovations

Placer Dispute Resolution Service, Lincoln, California

  • The goals of mediation are included in the agreement: recognition of injustice, some kind of restitution, and plans for the future, such as how the parties will treat each other.

  • As part of the sentence, the offender pays $40 for mediation.

Oakland Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, Oakland, California

  • If the initial introductory letter does not reach the parties, intake staff try to locate the parties by telephoning or driving to their homes.

  • Approximately 25-40 hours of volunteer time are devoted to each case, with mediators spending 2-3 hours with each party separately and meeting with the comediator for an hour before and after the mediation session. In tough cases, mediators meet with staff to brainstorm ideas and then debrief with staff following the mediation.

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, San Luis Obispo, California

  • A 36-hour course is being developed for offenders and their parents that covers the following topics: conflict management, empathy, communication, self-esteem building, and skills development for peer support.

Larimer County Youth Service Bureau/Victim-Offender Mediation Program, Fort Collins, Colorado

  • In addition to mediation, a broad spectrum of services is provided for offenders, including jail screening, host homes, electronic home monitoring, public works programs, training in conflict resolution skills, and recreation.

Woodford County Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, Eureka, Illinois

  • Mediations are occasionally held near the site where the crime was committed to enhance realism and impact.

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, Bloomington, Indiana

  • Offenders are given the victim's questions in advance to assist them in preparing for the mediation.

  • Conflict resolution training is conducted in a local detention center using a juvenile exoffender as cotrainer.

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, Lafayette, Indiana

  • Mediators are trained to avoid using the word "don't" in their ground rules because the effect may be demeaning to the parties. Instead, mediators model respect and frame the goals carefully, affirming the parties' choice to speak honestly and work together to see what can be done about the situation. If the conversation becomes disrespectful, the mediator, without judgment, stops the process and asks the parties how they feel and offers feedback if they have a personal reaction to what is happening, such as "That would make it hard for me to listen."

Center for Creative Justice, Ames, Iowa

  • If the victim chooses not to participate, the offender sends a letter of apology.

  • The offender pays a fee to participate in mediation.

Victim-Offender Mediation Program, Davenport, Iowa

  • Important qualifications for mediators include a certain attitude and perspective.

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, Hutchinson, Kansas

  • Victims are notified by telephone as soon as the restitution agreement is fulfilled.

Offender-Victim Ministries, Newton, Kansas

  • Teenage offenders are provided with information about drugs, mental health issues, and so on.

  • In response to a high volume of shoplifting in the area, this program developed a "mini-VORP" to be used with shoplifters. The juvenile offender develops a relationship with a mentor and writes and delivers a letter of apology as part of the program.

Mid-Michigan Dispute Resolution Center, Saginaw, Michigan

  • When offenders are young and somewhat inarticulate, probation officers work with them before mediation to develop a tentative script of what they might wish to express.

Dakota County Community Corrections, Apple Valley, Minnesota

  • The program uses the term "meeting" instead of "mediation" to avoid the possible impression that the parties are involved in a dispute rather than a crime.

Victim-Offender Interactive Conferences, Rochester, Minnesota

  • Mediators offer to role play the mediation session with offenders to help them prepare for the kinds of questions victims often ask.

Monroe County Community Mediation Program, Rochester, New York

  • Mediations are conducted at the program office, where staff are available to draft an agreement on the spot and provide copies of the completed agreement.

Orange County Dispute Settlement Center, Carrboro, North Carolina

  • The goals of mediation are framed as "gaining understanding" and "being able to move on," which are considered more realistic than "making things right."

  • An advisory council, assisting the board of directors in its work, is composed of victims, offenders, and youth workers.

One Step Further, Greensboro, North Carolina

  • Offenders are given job training and attend a life-skills class. The program also plans to provide a work-study program following the mediation process.

Crime Victim Services, Lima, Ohio

  • Mediations are held at the site of the crime whenever possible to make it more real to the parties and "help victims take their power back."

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program of Linn County, Albany, Oregon

  • A program on victimization is provided for juvenile offenders and their parents. Victim impact panels are used for cases in which victims choose not to mediate. Offenders also attend assault class, which teaches them effective ways to deal with anger.

Lancaster Area Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

  • A desired outcome of mediation is that the parties achieve a "sense of understanding."

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

  • One of the goals of mediation, as it is framed in this program, is to assist the victim in finding "some measure of peace."

Mediation and Restitution Reconciliation Services, Memphis, Tennessee

  • Mediation is part of a three-phase program for youthful offenders that includes recreational activities, relationship-building with adults through program-supervised community service, and ultimately housing facilities.

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program of Anderson County, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

  • Victims' names are added to the program's mailing list. Some victims have sent in contributions to support the operating expenses of the program.

Travis County Juvenile Court, Austin, Texas

  • Juvenile offenders, averaging 15 years of age, are trained as mediators and cofacilitate cases.

Dispute Mediation Services, Dallas, Texas

  • Volunteers are used to promote the program by speaking to juvenile court personnel about their experiences as mediators in the process.

  • Mediation programs are funded through a $10 surcharge on civil court filing fees.

  • Victims and offenders are given self-guided workbooks that assist them in preparing for the mediation session. The workbook invites participants to reflect on their experiences and the impact of the crime and to consider thoughts they would like to share and questions they would like to ask.

Northwest Institute for Restorative Justice, Victim-Offender Mediation Program, Seattle, Washington

  • Victims and offenders determine the goals of the mediation session.

  • Mediations are conducted in schools in cases where there is ambiguity about whether the parties are victims or offenders. The cases are initiated prior to any charges being filed or an admission of guilt being recorded, and the labels "victim" and "offender" are dropped to assist the peacemaking effort.

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, LaCrosse, Wisconsin

  • An advisory board for the program consists of representatives from court administration, health care, the media, victim/witness services, probation and parole, diversion, and the police. The program was developed by this advisory board.

  • Volunteer mediators keep office hours at the program office.

  • The program has found that by reducing the number of volunteers and providing them with more cases, the level of commitment on the part of volunteer mediators has increased and cases are completed more promptly.

Victim-Offender Mediation Program, Manitowoc, Wisconsin

  • Advocacy and support services are provided for victims, even when they choose not to participate in mediation.

  • Mediators follow up with juvenile offenders by monitoring restitution efforts, taking offenders on job search excursions, encouraging and reminding them to fulfill their agreements, and meeting with them when they bring restitution payments into the office.

Youth and Family Project, Port Washington, Wisconsin

  • Forums are conducted with victims to get their input about the process and their experiences.

Mediation Center of Waukesha County, Waukesha, Wisconsin

  • In the mediation session, parents of the offender are seated by the mediator to avoid having "too many eyes staring at the victim."

  • In discussing possible outcomes of mediation with the parties, mediators are careful not to "oversell" the process, for example, by pretending that there will be closure.

Training Ideas

Victim-Offender Mediation Project, Anchorage, Alaska

  • Mediators are trained to know the community's resources and structure and to understand how the program and the use of volunteers relate to community building.

Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix, Arizona

  • Training is designed as follows: short lecture on a small segment of the process, group practice, and role play.

Placer Dispute Resolution Service, Lincoln, California

  • Local high school freshmen who are committed to helping their peers find a better way to settle disputes are trained as mediators and serve on a panel of three, facilitating mediations.

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, San Luis Obispo, California

  • Training explores systemic and societal inequities that underlie anger.

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, Alamosa, Colorado

  • An offender helps with role plays by playing the part of the offender.

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program of Boulder County, Boulder, Colorado

  • To help mediators understand their own responses to conflict, the training explores with trainees how conflict was handled at home when they were growing up.

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program of McLean County, Inc., Bloomington, Illinois

  • One component of mediator training seeks to help mediators recognize their own needs and their own style of communication.

Victim-Offender Mediation Program of Davenport, Iowa

  • Each skill taught in training is reinforced through use of worksheets, verbal practice, interaction with the trainer, and role play.

Offender-Victim Ministries, Newton, Kansas

  • Trainees are invited to reflect on their own experiences of victimization and what others have said that was helpful or less than helpful. They also reflect on their experiences of offending.

Dakota County Community Corrections, Apple Valley, Minnesota

  • During mediation training, a probation officer and a judge participate in a skit illustrating the offender's movement through the system.

Victim-Offender Mediation Program, Coon Rapids, Minnesota

  • Efforts have been made over a period of years to cultivate a healthy working relationship with the county's victim services program, including suggestions that joint training be conducted and that portions of the mediation training be held in the offices of the victim services unit.

  • Training of mediators includes a segment on juvenile culture.

Restorative Justice Program, Woodbury, Minnesota

. To enhance the effectiveness of role playing, participants are shown how to be realistic in their portrayal of victim and offender behavior.

Orange County Dispute Settlement Center, Carrboro, North Carolina

  • Experienced mediators attend training sessions to discuss their mediation experiences.

Community Dispute Resolution Center, Ashland, Oregon

  • A panel of young people speaks during mediation training to educate mediators about adolescent issues and perspectives.

Lancaster Area Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

  • Role plays are designed with "kinks" that elicit discussion about particular issues mediators find challenging. Examples would be scenarios in which a youthful offender chooses not to participate in mediation, but the parents insist; a restitution amount is deemed unrealistic or unfair by the mediator; or cultural tensions are present.

  • Mediators are trained and encouraged through supervision to provide timely contact with the parties and followup on court proceedings and referrals that is efficient, dependable, and accurate.

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program of Southeast South Dakota, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

  • The trainer participates in the role plays to "level the playing field" between trainer and trainee and to give the trainer a better sense of where mediators might have difficulties.

Mediation and Restitution Reconciliation Services, Memphis, Tennessee

  • During mediation training, participants unknowingly receive the actual case for role playing that they will be given to mediate.

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program of Anderson County, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

  • During training each participant is videotaped as mediator in a role play. The tapes are then available to be checked out for viewing.

  • Community members are brought in to play the roles of victim, offender, and parent in the role plays.

  • Trainees are given information about the victim experience and then urged not to prejudge what might be important to a particular victim.

Dispute Mediation Service, Dallas, Texas

  • Excerpts from movies and newspapers are used in training to explore the nature of conflict and what could be done differently in a given scenario.

Victim-Offender Mediation Programs for Victims and Offenders, Seattle, Washington

  • Speakers from the judiciary are included in mediation training so that trainees realize that the system appreciates and supports mediation.

  • Trainees are given the opportunity to participate in an exercise that simulates greeting the victim and offender in the hallway prior to the mediation session.

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, LaCrosse, Wisconsin

  • As part of the training, mediators attend court proceedings to observe victims and offenders in the actual court process.
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Guidelines for Victim-Sensitive Victim-Offender Mediation:
Restorative Justice Through Dialogue
April 2000
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