In this restorative justice process, people who break the law have an opportunity to meet with those they’ve harmed, take responsibility for what they did and hear the impact it’s made on others.
For those harmed, “victims” have a unique place here to ask questions of those who offended, share grievances and be an active part of their own recovery.
This is the core work and mainstay of the Center for Community Peacemaking through Victim-Offender Conferencing.
Founded in 1994 as the Lancaster Area Victim Offender Reconciliation Project (LAVORP), the Center’s Victim Offender Conferencing program has been offered to more than 10,000 people in Lancaster County and beyond. Working primarily with the juvenile justice system, Victim-Offender Conferencing is available to anyone in or near Lancaster County, whether harmed or having harmed others, to support everyone involved in repairing damage done and “moving on” constructively. The shape of the process will vary considerably depending on someone’s status is the formal criminal justice system, so please contact us for more information or use the referral form linked below.
In 2014, the Center handled 180 cases for restorative victim-offender conferencing, with 70 agreements reached. 90% of surveyed victims and offenders said they were very satisfied with the process and would recommend it to a friend.
Tied to the two-decade success of this program is the implementation of “Balanced and Restorative Justice” (BARJ) in the Juvenile Justice system in 1995 through PA Act 33 which requires all juvenile justice professionals to devote attention to:
- Enable offenders to make amends to their victims and the community.
- Increase the competency of offenders to reduce re-offense.
- Protect the public through processes in which individual victims, the community and offenders are all active participants.
The Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) Model outlines an alternative philosophy, restorative justice, and a new mission, “the balanced approach,” which requires juvenile justice professionals to devote attention to:
Enabling offenders to make amends to their victims and community.Increasing offender competencies.Protecting the public through processes in which individual victims, the community, and offenders are all active participants.
To implement the Balanced and Restorative Justice principles, the Center for Community Peacemaking works closely with Lancaster County’s Juvenile Probation office, Juvenile Court Judges, Youth Aid Panels, Victim-Witness Services office and the District Attorney’s office.
The continued success of victim-offender conferencing is owed to cooperation from these offices, the skillful dedication of volunteer facilitators and financial support we receive every year primarily from charitable sources to ensure a trust-worthy process of restorative justice that everyone deserves.
If you wish to make a referral to the VOC program, download a Referral Form by clicking this VOC_Referral_Form.