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Victim offender conferencing in Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system

Zehr, Howard
June 4, 2015

Source: (1998) Harrisonburg, PA: Eastern Mennonite University, Conflict Transformation Program.

As guided by state legislation in the mid 1990s, the mission of the Pennsylvania juvenile justice system is rooted in restorative justice ideas and practices. This has led to a significant dialogue among juvenile justice professionals, victim services providers, and citizens about the fundamental purpose of the juvenile justice system, and the roles of crime victim, juvenile offender, and community in the justice process. This manual, focusing on victim offender conferencing (VOC) and its application in Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system, was developed in response to increased recognition of such conferencing as a tool to assist in the achievement of justice for victims and offenders. Of special note in the introduction are a definition of victim offender conferencing (mediation) and a summary of key terms in conferencing. In the following chapters, the authors examine these topics: the rationale for VOC; the history and nature of VOC; restorative justice as a framework; program development; the VOC process; the role of the mediator; training issues; and program evaluation issues. Additional materials in the appendix include many practical resources, such as a juvenile court flow chart, do’s and don’ts of working with victims, benefits and risks of VOC, and active listening steps and skills. The curriculum in this manual is designed to be used in training workshops for programs implementing a VOC project in the juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania.


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