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Best Practice Guidelines for Victim Impact Panels Within Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System

Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers, Julie
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) Harrisburg, PA : Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers.

These guidelines note that a VIP is a powerful tool of Balanced and Restorative Justice and should be incorporated into a broad-spectrum approach for assisting victims and educating offenders. It is essential that appropriate victim-centered crisis and support services be available for victims before implementing VIP’s. Working with a victim service agency and/or the victim advocate in juvenile court is critical in developing a VIP. Victim service agencies and advocates are sensitive to the needs of victims and are best equipped to make the initial contact with victims to assess their readiness to talk with an audience of offenders. A collaborative effort between the juvenile probation department and the victim service agency will generate the most productive outcome, which will focus on the needs of both the victim and the offender. The benefits for victim presenters in VIP’s may include assistance in the healing process, helping offenders to understand that their criminal behaviors bring suffering to others, giving victims a voice in expressing their feelings, and empowering victims. Benefits for offenders can involve seeing and hearing first hand about the physical, emotional, and financial damage caused by an offense; learning how crime impacts many persons, including family, friends, and others the offender may not have considered; and the imprinting of images of real people who have been harmed on the offender’s mind. Guidelines are provided for preparation and follow-up with panel members, as well as preparation and follow-up with offenders. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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