A Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD) meeting is a service provided to victims and survivors that gives them the opportunity to have a one-time structured, facilitated meeting with the inmate within a prison facility. The meetings are intended to assist the victim/survivor in dealing with the impact of the crime.
Victim-Offender Dialogue meetings are not...
- Not to promote any agreement between the victim and the inmate.
- Not a method for victims to seek retribution against the inmate.
- Not a means by which an offender can be granted special consideration for parole review, change in custody level, classification status, clemency or pardon.
- Not a forum for the dialogue facilitator to impose solutions or expectations on the victims or the offenders
- Not a civil law process or settlement-driven procedure.
While VOD meetings can be healing, this process is not for everyone. It requires a substantial commitment of time for preparation, and can have a lasting emotional impact.
People choose to request meetings for a variety of reasons...
- Wanting the inmate to hear the full impact of their victimization or loss.
- Trying to assess whether the inmate has changed or learned anything from the experience.
- Wanting to ask questions that only the inmate can answer, such as why and how the crime occurred.
- Wanting to assess whether the incarcerated person poses a continuing threat when he or she is released from prison.
- Addressing lingering questions if they were not able to fully participate in the criminal court process.
- Wanting to ascertain whether the inmate is remorseful, or has taken steps to change past patterns of behavior.
- Wanting to offer forgiveness.
Initiating a VOD Meeting
There are many criteria which must be met for a Victim-Offender Dialogue meeting to occur, some of which are:
- The inmate must be currently confined in a Washington State Department of Corrections prison facility.
- These meetings can be initiated only by the victim or survivor, and they must be at least 18 years of age at the time of application.
- Inmates cannot be forced to participate.
- If an inmate chooses to participate, they must admit responsibility for their crime and acknowledge their participation will not earn them early release or any other privileges.
- Both parties also have to agree to participate respectfully during the preparation processes and in the face-to-face meeting.
See DOC Policy 390.350 Facilitated Communication Between Victims & Offenders for all criteria and more detailed information about VOD meetings.
Initiate a Meeting Request
The victim/survivor must initiate a request for a meeting with the inmate through the Victim Services Program.
What to Expect
The preparation process may take months or longer before the victim and inmate ever meet face-to-face.
The meetings are facilitated by a trained and experienced facilitator. Through individual preparatory meetings with the selected facilitator, which may take place over an extended period of time, the participants delve deeply into the emotions and questions surrounding the crime. Only when the facilitator is satisfied that the victim and the inmate are both fully prepared, will the face-to-face dialogue meeting occur.
Either party may withdraw from the VOD process at any time.