Wyoming is now offering a new program to victims of crimes that will allow them to request a facilitated meeting with the offender of the crime. The Victim Offender Dialogue Program is the first of its kind in the state for adults.
The restorative justice effort will allow victims to request a face-to-face meeting with their offenders to talk about the crime, its impacts, and ask questions. Randi Losalu is the victim services coordinator for the Wyoming Board of Parole. She says the program wants to provide victims with the opportunity to participate in the justice process, even if it’s post-conviction.
“They don’t have as much of a voice as some of them would like. They do get their opportunity to speak at sentencing and provide their input at that point. They also have an opportunity for input at parole hearings. But at no point is there any time for the victims to speak with the offender themselves, to ask questions and get answers and to just have their voice heard,” says Losalu.
She says it could help people come to terms with what happened to them.
“A lot of closure can happen out of this program. In addition to being incredibly helpful for those victims that want to participate, it can also be very useful for offenders, as well. They are able to take accountability for their actions and be able to listen and hear what they’ve done, which can mean a lot to victims,” Losalu says.
Losalu says the program will not accept requests to facilitate dialogue in cases of domestic violence or stalking, but will work with most other crimes.
So far the program has four trained facilitators, who are volunteering their time. Losalu says the program is not costing the state anything, but she plans to apply for grants to help with travels costs for participants.