Both the victim and the offender have the chance to take part in a face-to-face discussion with the assistance of a trained coordinator. Parents/Guardians of juveniles are involved with every phase of the discussion. Everyone can explore what happened, discuss how the crime impacts each person and decide what can happen to right the wrong done.
Victim Offender Conferencing is a Restorative Justice Program.
People wronged by crime often say that it is important to have the justice system recognize the harm done.
All referrals for a conference meet with the VOC Coordinator in a face-to-face meeting before the conference to make sure the program is appropriate for everyone involved. This is a time for victims and offenders to ask questions about anything they are unsure of.
Every effort is made to complete the VOC process as quickly as possible. The time needed to complete the process will vary with each situation.
During the conference, victims have a chance to talk to the offender. They can ask any questions they have. They can share the impact that the crime has had on them and/or their family and talk about what they need in order to move forward.
Crime victims often have questions which only their offender can answer. VOC provides a way for this discussion to take place in a safe, controlled environment.
If young people who commit crimes are going to be able to understand how they have hurt someone, and be accountable, they need to know the human impact of their actions and not just the legal consequences. They learn this by talking face-to-face and listening to the victim’s story.
The offender has a chance to work with the victim and the facilitator to decide what they can do to “make things right”. That may, for example, include community service or cover expenses to repair property. This is considered restitution, or making amends for the harm done.
Juvenile Justice System
Compared to the traditional court system, cases referred to the VOC program often get resolved much faster. Victims are able to be involved in a more meaningful way. Research has shown that the VOC process is more successful than some other ways of handling a juvenile case.