NHDOC Empowering Victims Through Restorative Justice
(Concord, NH) As a small yet essential unit within the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, the Victim Services Unit strives to continuously improve assistance and support of crime victims, survivors, witnesses and families. The Victim Services Unit works diligently to stay responsive to the interests of victims and uphold the NH Victim Bill of Rights. With respect for the rights and experiences of crime victims and survivors, the Victim Services Unit is committed to keeping interested citizens informed, involved and safe.
Victim Services staff acknowledge that for victims and survivors, violent crime brings trauma, grief and phases of healing. To assist in the recovery and healing process, some victims, or surviving family members, of violent crimes may want to meet with the offender. Victim Services can assist in this restorative process through a Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD). This is a corrections-based, victim-centered program available to victims under the NH Victim Bill of Rights.
Victim-Offender Dialogue is a restorative process that is victim-initiated and emphasizes the importance of accountability, the impacts of criminal behavior, and provides an opportunity for the offender to express remorse. It is a one-time facilitated dialogue between the victim and the offender in a safe and structured setting, which occurs with a great deal of preparation to promote the physical and emotional safety of both the victim and the offender.
The dedicated Victim Services staff has worked effortlessly to initiate the rebuilding of the VOD Program, furthering restorative justice within the state of NH. Within the last 10 months, Victim Services hired a part-time Victim-Offender Dialogue Coordinator, who has actively participated in VOD trainings with Victim Witness Directors, Advocates and VOD professionals from around the United States. The VOD Coordinator recently completed the 40-hour intensive JUST Alternatives Victim-Offender Dialogue Training on facilitating victim-centered Victim- Offender Dialogues in crimes of severe violence. Additionally, Victim Services continues to work with the National Institute of Corrections in resourcing funding to host a regional training for VOD facilitators.
After months of working energetically towards the rebuilding of this much requested program, Victim Services is excited to announce that they are ready to begin working with victims and offenders in the Victim-Offender Dialogue program, to empower victims and survivors and advance restorative justice throughout the state of New Hampshire.