The Mediation of Drunk Driving Deaths and other Severely Violent CrimesMost victim-offender mediation programs do their work only with juvenile offenders and only with non-violent offenses. The mediation of severely violent crimes is not commonplace. However, in a growing number of victim-offender programs, victims and survivors of severely violent crimes, including murders and sexual assaults, are finding that confronting their offender in a safe and controlled setting, with the assistance of a mediator, returns their stolen sense of safety and control in their lives. Increasingly, mediation is helping to repair the lives of surviving family members and offenders devastated by drunk-driving fatalities.
Such violent offenses are usually mediated upon the initiation of the victim, and only after many months of work with a specially trained and qualified mediator, collaborating with the victim's therapist and/or other helping professionals. Participation must be completely voluntary, for both victim and offender. Mediators carefully screen cases and every aspect of the mediation process has the safety of the victim as its foremost concern. Only offenders who admit their guilt, express remorse and want to make amends are candidates for mediation.
There may be restitution agreements for funeral expenses, psychotherapy and other financial losses, but there is obviously no way to restore the lost life of a loved one. The primary focus is upon healing and closure. It is the healing power of the victim-offender mediation process that drew me to become involved in this work. Heartfelt apologies are usually offered and the victim and offender may discuss the issue of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a focus of the mediation process, but the process provides an "open space" in which forgiveness may occur, for victims who wish to consider it at that time. Forgiveness is a process, not a goal. It must occur according to the victim's own timing, if at all. For some victims, forgiveness may never be appropriate.
In cases of severely violent crime, victim-offender mediation is not a substitute for punishment. In such cases, judges seldom reduce prison sentences as a result of mediation.
Mediation of Drunk Driving Fatalities Articles:
- Life After Death
- (West Magazine)
- Coming Home: A Life Lost and
- a Life Saved (The Sunday Oregonian)
- "I Forgave My Sister's Killer" -
- I Couldn't Begin to Heal Until I Let Go of My Hatred (Ladies Home Journal)
- Mediating a Drunk Driving Death:
- A Case Development Study
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