Victim Offender Dialogue
It is not unusual for crime victims or surviving family members to have unanswered questions: "Why did you do it?" "Are you sorry?" "What were my loved ones last words?" Some victims and survivors want to ask these questions and express their feelings directly to the person that caused them harm. The Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD) program offers a safe, secure and structured way to do this.
VOD is a victim-initiated* program. It’s an opportunity for the victim/survivor to ask questions about the crime and to tell the offender how it affected their lives.
The offender may also benefit by being able to accept responsibility and recognize the real person(s) they have affected. The offender’s participation is voluntary and has no effect on their institutional or parole status.
The program includes extensive preparation for both the victim and offender by trained facilitators. The facilitators prepare both parties independently for the face-to-face meeting, are present during the face-to-face meeting, and provide subsequent follow-up. The face-to-face meeting is held in the state correctional institution or in a safe, private setting within the community (if the offender is on parole).
Either party has the right to put the case on hold or end the process at any time.
For those who are unable to or do not want to meet the person face-to-face, indirect dialogue or letter writing is available. This form of dialogue utilizes the same preparation as with a face-to-face meeting. However, the facilitators assist each party with composing, exchanging and reading the letters. No letters will be sent directly to the victim or offender. Instead, the letters go through the Office of Victim Advocate.
If you are interested in learning more about the program or would like to do an intake, please contact OVA at 800.563.6399 or RA-PMOVA-VODProgram@pa.gov
*VOD is a victim-initiated program. Should an offender wish to offer remorse, the Inmate Apology Bank (IAB) offers an opportunity for the offender to write a letter to the victim. IAB is an offender-initiated program. Read more here.