Mediation Phase

If both parties agree to participate in the program, arrangements are made for the main meeting, which usually lasts between two and three hours. The victim and the offender are brought together at the main meeting. Seeing the offender often relieves the victim for by meeting the offender, a humane and remorseful individual is seen rather than the “frightening character” that victims so often picture (Umbreit, 1993, p. 70).

Both participants are given the opportunity to state the facts from their point of view, and are allowed to voice their opinions and emotions regarding the events. Neither party is able to intervene or interrupt the other individual. Once the venting of emotions is done, a verbal negotiation is worked out regarding reparations. This negotiation is then documented in writing and signed by all parties present.

The mediator does not make decisions for the parties, but rather assists them to work towards a resolution that is fair and addresses both their needs. The mediator only talks about 15 to 20 percent of the time (Umbreit, 1993, p. 72).

Follow-up Phase

Once a restitution contract is agreed upon, there is a period of evaluation and follow-up to determine if the negotiated restitution has been completed. Once the agreement is finished, a recommendation is made that the criminal charges not be pursued.

If an agreement is not reached, or the negotiated settlement is not fulfilled, the case is referred back to court. When both parties agree to meet, an agreement is reached in the majority of cases. Once an agreement has been made, the majority are completed.

BENEFITS OF VORPS

Both the victim and the offender can benefit from victim-offender reconciliation programs. Benefits to the victim include:

  • the victim is given the opportunity to express his or her views directly to the offender;
  • the victim has the opportunity to obtain realistic compensation for losses incurred as a result of the incident;
  • the victim receives answers to questions about the offense that only the offender can provide;
  • the victim has the opportunity to be involved in the sentence of the offender; and,
  • victims are more likely to receive restitution through VORPs than through the court: the collection rate for court-ordered restitution is low (58%), but for VORPs, the rate is 81% (Umbreit, 1994, p. 112).

Benefits to the offender include:

  • the offender is able to take direct and personal accountability for actions;
  • offenders have the opportunity to learn about the consequences of their actions, apologize, express regrets, and make amends directly to the victim; and,
  • the offender is given the opportunity to participate in a process through which the stigma of a criminal record can be avoided.

Benefits to the community can also take place:

  • VORPs contribute to the peace of the community by assisting persons to reach resolutions that address the cause of the conflict; and,
  • VORPs save society money: it costs several hundred dollars for an offender to be placed in VORP, but it costs thousands for an offender to be on probation or parole, and at least $40,000 for an offender to be incarcerated.

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