Restore provides creative, safe, and appropriate opportunities for the harmed and harm-doer to directly discuss the human consequences of what has occurred, address issues of safety and accountability, and help parties begin the process of moving forward.


Victim-Offender Mediation

The victim-offender mediation program enables those who have been victimized by crime to meet with their offenders in a face-to-face meeting to ask questions, express anger and frustration, discuss the real human consequences of the injury (material, emotional, and psychological) and how the offender’s behavior impacted them. The victim then talks about what needs to be done to make things right. Offenders are held directly accountable through a restitution contract that is realistic, measurable, and acceptable to the victim. Begun in the early Eights, restorative justice programs now operate in nearly 300 communities nationwide.

The Process

The victim-offender mediation program provides a safe and structured opportunity for a crime victim who is willing to do so to meet their offender face-to-face to discuss what happened, how they were affected, and what needs to be done to make it right. The program volunteer meets first with the offender and then with the victim to describe the program as well as the way in which many victims have found victim-offender mediation to be helpful. Once the program is described and any questions the victim might have are answered, the victim is invited to participate. Meetings are conducted at a place of the victim’s choice and may occur at the program office, church, synagogue or temple, courtroom, conference rooms in libraries, neighborhood community centers, and even in the home of the victim.

In mediation, facilitated by a trained community volunteer mediator, crime is personalized as offenders learn the human consequences of their actions. Victims have the opportunity to speak their minds and their feelings to the offenders who most ought to hear them, contributing to the victim's healing. Victims get answers to haunting questions that only the offender can answer. The most commonly asked questions are: Why did you do this to me? Was this my fault? Could I have prevented this? Were you stalking or watching me?

Victims commonly report a new peace of mind, even when the answers to their questions were worse than they had feared. The offender is provided the opportunity to hear directly from the victim the real human consequences of how the offender’s behavior impacted another person. They learn first-hand the costs incurred by the victim and often the victim’s family, not just the often substantial economic and material costs, but perhaps even more importantly the emotional, physical and psychological costs. The offender is provided an opportunity to take responsibility for their criminal behavior. They may apologize or express remorse if it is genuine. Often they are able to provide the victim with information that the victim might not otherwise receive.

After the parties have talked about what happened and how people were affected, the discussion turns to creating a restitution agreement. Having already met with the victim and the offender prior to the meeting, the mediator has asked each party to consider what kind of restitution might be realistic, reasonable and acceptable. They then talk about a restitution agreement. Restitution may involve a monetary component but it can also include alternative forms of restitution which might include work or a behavioral component such as writing a letter of apology or agreeing to attend school on a regular basis. Once an agreement is reached, the terms are written down in detail and a copy is given to both parties as well as to the court for final approval. According to national research approximately 85-95% of all agreements are completed successfully.

Frequently Asked Questions about Victim Offender Mediation Programs

For over three decades victim-offender mediation programs have been evaluated and tested. Research into these programs has shown a number of measurable benefits.

Benefits for victims:
Benefits for offenders:
Benefits for the community:

Training and Workshops

Restore provides trainings and workshops in restorative justice on a quarterly basis. The training is based on the trans-formative model of conflict resolution. Participants will leave the training with an understanding of “the language of conflict” and approaches to resolving conflict which recognize and empower the participants. Participants also learn skills and techniques that will enable them to serve as volunteer mediators in the victim-offender mediation program through Restore, if desired. The training is open to the general public. No prior mediation experience is required, just an interest in learning more about peaceful solutions to conflict and opportunities to apply it.