A few words of acknowledgement was what they want. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone harmed by crime say something similar. Whether or not they had known the offender or not, many people want some kind of apology or acknowledgement from the other person.
For me, this is one of the saddest aspects of the criminal justice system. Many times I've talked with offenders who would like to offer an apology (although not all of them). Yet, they are unable to due to warnings from law enforcement and lawyers. The adversarial nature of the system simply keeps people apart.
This is why I like facilitating restorative conferences. It’s a tough process with lots of difficult emotions. At times, it places me in uncomfortable situations. Yet, it opens space for people who have experienced deep harm -- whether as victim or offender -- to communicate. They can tell their stories, ask their questions, and share emotions. For most of the people I've talked with that type of sharing is an integral part of moving beyond the harms they experienced.