What is Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD)?
A victim offender dialogue is a victim-centered, confidential face-to-face meeting between a victim/survivor and the offender of a severe or violent crime. The process must be victim-initiated and voluntary. VOD requires intensive pre-dialogue preparation for both parties which is facilitated by specially trained individuals committed to the intent and integrity of the program.
VOD offers victims a rare opportunity to be directly heard and receive answers to questions only the offender can know. Facilitated preparation leads to a face-to-face conversation in a safe setting that allows the victim/survivor to give voice to the pain and trauma they have experienced. From the time the crime is committed, no communication is permitted between victims and offenders. Victims are often left with more questions than answers.
VOD empowers the victim/survivor to establish a more personal sense of justice and to pave a path forward in their wellbeing and healing. Forgiveness is not a requirement or expectation as that decision belongs to the victim/survivor. Additionally, the process is not intended as professional therapy, however, outcomes are often described as therapeutic.
Offenders have the opportunity to deeply listen and acknowledge the complexity of impacts surrounding the harm they have caused; they are able to express personal accountability and better understand the devastating consequences of their actions. As a result, they are able to intentionally create new, meaningful purpose in their lives.
What is the history of VOD in CDOC?
- In 2011, legislation encouraged DOC to implement VOD as a Restorative Justice practices
- Three pilot VOD cases were conducted
- In 2014, AR 1350-05: Victim Offender Dialogue in Cases of Violent Crime established
- To date, there have been 20 successful VOD’s
- Participant feedback consistently indicates “expectations were exceeded”
- In 2016, DOC partnered with the University of Denver, COVA, DYS, and Judicial/Probation to conduct a pilot study to research the benefits of VOD for victims/survivors
- Data reflected statistically significant improvement in the well-being of victims who participated
How does VOD serve victims?
VOD can provide:
- Continued healing
- A personal sense of justice
- Answers to questions they are unable to obtain in the traditional criminal justice system