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).
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.
Both the victim and the offender can benefit from victim-offender reconciliation programs. Benefits to the victim include:
Benefits to the offender include:
Benefits to the community can also take place: