Victims are said to be central to restorative justice, but most restorative justice programs take place in the context of the offender-centered criminal justice system.
Following are several resources to help maintain a respectful focus on victims and their needs.
Best Practice Guidelines in Working with Victims of Reparative Probation Offenses: A Restorative Justice Manual was prepared by the Director of Crime Victim Services of hte Vermont Department of Corrections.
We developed this manual to help Department of Corrections (DOC) volunteers and staff think about ways in which the Reparative Probation Program can best respectfully and safely include victims in its restorative process. Throughout the manual, the best practice guides for working with victims are also meant for use with all affected parties of a crime. This document attempts to offer guidelines in working with victims based on "best practice;" that is, what research, experience and victim responses have led us to believe is the most effective way to meet victim needs and achieve a restorative process for all involved.
Listening to Victims--A Critique of Restorative Justice Policy and Practice in the United States grew out of the "Listening Project", conducted by Howard Zehr and his colleagues.
One of the core objectives of the Listening Program was to create a plan for more responsive restorative justice programs and better outcomes for victims. Phase I of the Listening Project involved listening sessions with 120 victims and victim advocates in 7 States during 1999 and 2000. Phase II of the Listening Project involved a 2-day meeting of listening site representatives, victims, victim advocates, victim services personnel, and restorative justice practitioners to identify areas of agreement and concern regarding restorative justice. Overall, participant victims expressed feelings of injustice, disrespect, exclusion, lack of empathy, and irrelevance as a result of the restorative justice process. There was a sense that although victim input and collaboration are touted as central to restorative justice practices, the voices of victims were not heard during the process. The results of the 2-day meeting produced a 10-task action plan to more fully incorporate a victim-centered approach into restorative justice practices.