We have a long history of offering Victim-Offender Dialogue training in a variety of contexts. Scroll down to learn more, or contact us for more information or to schedule a training for your organization.
When individuals commit an offense they harm their victims, society, and themselves. Restorative justice is about healing and addressing wrongs that have been committed and repairing the relationships in the community. Restorative approaches:
enable those affected by offenses to openly share their feelings and experiences while aiming to address their needs;
provide an opportunity for those impacted by offenses to have a voice in the process, obtain reparations, and feel safer;
allow those who commit offenses to gain insight into the causes and effects of their behavior and to take responsibility in a meaningful way; and
enable communities to understand the underlying causes of offenses, to promote community well-being, and to prevent future offenses.
Restorative justice processes focus on how communication between those who are harmed, those who cause harm, and members of the community can help heal victims, allow offenders to internalize the impact of crime, and provide opportunities for the harm caused by crime to both individuals and communities to be repaired. Facilitated dialogue is a key part of this process, and skills in communication and conflict management are vital to successful restorative justice processes.Learn more about Restorative Justice from the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice.
About Victim-Offender Dialogue
Victim-offender dialogue (also called victim-offender mediation) is a facilitated discussion between someone whose offense has caused harm and those impacted by their actions.
All parties are prepared in advance by trained facilitators/mediators to take part in a structured dialogue about the harm caused.
Those involved have a chance to “tell their story” and ask questions of one another.
The parties then work together to develop a plan to repair the harm caused and hold the person whose actions caused the harm accountable. This plan may include the payment of restitution, the completion of meaningful community service, or other creative options.
The goal of the plan is both to repair the harm but also to reintegrate students who have committed conduct violations into the University community.
A victim-offender mediation session offers those harmed by crime the opportunity to explain how they have been affected and to ask questions like, “Why me?” and “Will you do this again?” By participating, those impacted by crime are empowered and often experience a sense of closure and peace of mind that is not offered by the traditional justice system.
Those who commit harm also benefit from meeting the victims of their offenses. By putting a human face on those impacted by their actions, these individuals realize that their actions hurt others, and they often feel empathy for their victims for the first time. Additionally, these dialogues offer the opportunity for those who cause harm to make personally meaningful restitution to their victims and "make things right" so they can move forward in a positive way. Through this process they learn accountability and are reaffirmed as members of the community, thereby decreasing the likelihood that they will re-offend.
About This Training
This training covers basic restorative justice principles and begins to prepare participants to facilitate Victim-Offender Dialogues. No prior mediation experience is necessary to become a volunteer victim-offender dialogue facilitator.
In her work as the Director of the Center for Dispute Resolution (CDR) at Missouri State University Dr. Berquist collaborated with the Greene County Juvenile Office to start a juvenile victim-offender mediation program in 2006.
A year later Ms. Blades joined the CDR as the Associate Director and worked with Dr. Berquist to develop the state's first adult Victim-Offender Mediation program in 2008, in collaboration with the Greene County Prosecutor's Office.
Berquist and Blades went on to found the innovative Juvenile Victim Impact Program in 2009. This restorative justice program utilizes storytelling, dialogue, and reflection to help youth understand and internalize the impact that crime has on individual victims, their family and friends, and their community.
In 2018 Berquist and Blades developed a restorative justice program for Missouri State students, funded by a grant from the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice. This collaborative effort with Missouri State's Office of Student Conduct, offered restorative responses for students who were found responsible for violations of the Code of Student Conduct.
In addition to training volunteers in restorative practices and developing restorative justice program, Berquist and Blades also provided leadership and administrative support for the Missouri Restorative Justice Coalition. Along with other members of the MORJC they helped coordinate two statewide restorative practices conferences in 2017 and 2022.