Restorative Options

                            Frequently Asked Questions

                                 Victim Sensitive Offender Dialogue - A program of Restorative Options

Why would I choose to participate in the Victim Sensitive Offender Dialogue Program?

There are many reasons you may choose to participate in the Dialogue program. Many victims feel that the justice system did not truly allow them to be heard. Some need to express their anger or hear the offender express remorse. Different people have different reasons, but most of all the process may help you move on and acquire some level of healing.

Who can ask for a dialogue?

Only the victim or their survivors can initiate the dialogue.

Suppose I don't feel able to meet with the offender face-to-face? Is there another way to express my feelings to him/her?

If at any time during the process a victim feels he/she cannot meet with the offender face-to-face, he/she will be given the option to videotape a statement to the offender and receive a videotape from the offender in return, or the victim may choose to only exchange letters through the Restorative Options office. Victims will be given the opportunity to choose what is most comfortable for them.

What if my offender will not agree to meet with me?

There is always the possibility that the offender may not be ready to meet with you. However, we will keep your request to meet on file. If the offender changes his/her mind and contacts our office, we will contact you about the possibility of scheduling a dialogue.

How long will it take before I can meet with my offender? Who decides if we are ready?

There is a preparation process that both the victim and the offender must participate in before a determination can be made about the appropriateness of a dialogue for both parties. Depending on the readiness level of the participants, this process can take anywhere from 3 months to a year. A facilitator will work with both parties separately to make this determination. When preparing offenders, facilitators will meet with institution staff members and individuals who can adequately evaluate the offender’s readiness to participate in the dialogue.

Where will the dialogue take place?

Once dialogue is determined appropriate for both parties it will take place within the institution. You will be asked to complete forms that will allow you to enter the institution. Once you are cleared and prior to the dialogue, you will be given a tour of the area within the institution where the dialogue will take place.

What feelings can I expect after meeting with the offender?

There is no way to guarantee how a victim will feel when he/she is face-to-face with the person who has caused him/her harm. However, work done through the preparation process will help to assure victims that there will be no surprises during the dialogue . After the dialogue, the facilitator will work with victims through a debriefing process and be available with any additional help or support that may be needed. No matter how much work is done, victims can never be sure of how they will feel once they have met with their offenders. Talking with the person who has caused you harm does not mean you will no longer struggle with your feelings about that person. It is, however, a tool for helping victims close another chapter in the healing process.

Will the offender have to serve less time because he/she agrees to meet with me?

Offenders cannot use the fact that they have met with their victim through the Victim Sensitive Offender Dialogue program for sentence reduction. Offenders are told that if they choose to participate in the  program they do so only because they want to do something to help their victim.