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Victim Offender Mediation
Based on a foundation of Restorative Justice values, the Victim Offender Mediation Program (VOMP) focuses, at a post-incarceration stage, on remaining accountability, healing and closure issues for those involved in or affected by traumatic criminal offences. While the program can and does involve face-to-face mediation in many cases, the 'mediator' is not an intervener but rather a supportive facilitator of therapeutic dialogue. The assessment and preparation processes are therapeutic in nature, and informed by current theory and clinical practice regarding offender treatment and victim trauma recovery.
The purpose of the Victim Offender Mediation Program is to assist people affected by serious crimes by:
- empowering them to address issues and concerns surrounding the crime and its consequences;
- providing the parties with a process which can lead to new insight, thereby reducing levels of anxiety, and contributing to therapeutic gains;
- addressing questions and concerns regarding the offender's eventual release into the community;
- providing sensitive staff who are committed to being agents of healing and restoration for those who suffer crime's effects.
In the years since the VOMP program's 1990 beginning, both victim and offender participants have consistently reported gains in their own healing, recovery and rehabilitation. Researcher Tim Roberts, in his 1995 evaluation of VOMP for the Solicitor General of Canada, reported that this program had one of the most positive evaluations of any program researched in his 30-year experience:
"There was unanimous support for the program from all victim and offender respondents interviewed in this study. 'Support' means that respondents found considerable specific and overall value in the program, felt it was ethically and professionally run, and would not hesitate to recommend it to others. This level of support is remarkable, considering that VOMP involves parties who are initially polarized, and who could be expected to hold divergent views about the value of the program. VOMP also exists in a polarized political context of offender, victim and feminist advocacy, each of which has legitimacy in itself, and which one might have expected to find voice in at least one or two disappointed participants."
For more information on this program, email the CJI office.