|U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
estorative justice and mediation programs are viable options for serving victims as they try to resolve the impact of crime on their lives. This bulletin summarizes the five documents in The Restorative Justice and Mediation Collection, which covers a number of issues related to restorative justice. Four of the documents focus on victim-offender mediation, a major programmatic intervention that fully embraces the concepts of restorative justice.
The first of these documents, Guidelines for Victim-Sensitive Victim-Offender Mediation: Restorative Justice Through Dialogue, assists administrators in developing or enhancing victim-offender mediation programs. It provides practical guidance for mediators to facilitate balanced and fair mediation that ensures the safety of all participants. The National Survey of Victim-Offender Mediation Programs in the United States presents results from a national survey about the characteristics of victim-offender mediation programs operating nationwide and the major issues facing them in their day-to-day operations. This document describes the actual functioning of the programs, whereas the Guidelines sets standards for the practice of victim-offender mediation.
Next, the Directory of Victim-Offender Mediation Programs in the United States lists victim-offender mediation programs across the country and provides program and contact information. The Family Group Conferencing: Implications for Crime Victims document discusses a related form of restorative justice dialogue that originated in New Zealand and Australia and has been replicated in some communities in the United States. The Multicultural Implications of Restorative Justice: Potential Pitfalls and Dangers document explores concerns about the implementation of restorative justice programs when working with persons of cross-cultural perspectives.
The Office for Victims of Crime does not recommend that every victim participate in victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing, or other restorative justice interventions. Such participation is a personal decision that each victim must make for herself or himself. We strongly advocate, however, that all restorative justice programs be extremely sensitive to the needs and concerns of victims who would like to meet with their offenders. Victims should be granted a choice in the location, timing, and structure of the sessions and the right to end their participation at any stage in the process. These protections for victims do not mean that offenders can be treated insensitively. Both victims and offenders must be dealt with respectfully.
We sincerely hope that restorative justice programs run by probation and parole agencies, judicial agencies, religious groups, victim services organizations, community-based organizations, and other restorative justice offices study these documents and embrace the victim-sensitive guidelines that are relevant to their particular type of intervention. Restorative justice programs can only be strengthened by operating with heightened awareness of the needs of crime victims.
Kathryn M. Turman
The Restorative Justice and Mediation Collection: Executive Summary