We are a church and community based program serving victims and offenders of juvenile crime in Fresno County.
We invite church and community volunteers to facilitate a mediation process which takes into consideration the needs and concerns of the victim, offender and community. It provides these parties with an opportunity to decide for themselves how to best address an offense, and what is most needed to keep it from happening again in the future.
After a referral is received and screened at VORP, it is assigned to a trained community volunteer who does not represent a particular authority and therefore can be a third-party mediator. The volunteer separately contacts the offender and victim, explains the program, discusses the offense and its aftermath, and invites participation. If the victim and offender agree to meet each other, the volunteer sets and facilitates a meeting at which the facts of the case are discussed, restitution negotiated, and an agreement signed, stating the nature and amount of restitution agreed upon.
At the meeting the victim and offender also have a chance to express their feelings about the offense, so that the conflict between them might be resolved.
After the meeting, the agreement is sent to the referring agency for approval and enforcement. VORP receives restitution payments from the offender that are made on an installment basis and forwards them to the victim. When possible, VORP helps offenders find jobs to earn money to pay restitution.
VORP deals mainly, but not exclusively, with property offenses. As a sentencing alternative, VORP is not to be used as a additional penalty tacked onto a standard sentence. Participation in the program is voluntary; while VORP may be ordered as part of a criminal sentence or as a probation condition, the referral will not be pursued if either the victim or offender is unwilling. In the event that no agreement is reached at the meeting, options are explained and the case is returned to the referring agency.
Benefits of VORP
VORP offers some relief from both frustrations through communication, restitution, involvement in the settlement of the case, and an opportunity to offer forgiveness when appropriate.
OFFENDERS seldom face the persons they have wronged or know their loss, frustration, and anger or take responsibility to "make it right'.
VORP helps offenders face the real human and financial costs of their actions and ask forgiveness by recognizing the feelings, accepting responsibility to make restitution, and clarifying intentions for the future. Offenders have a direct part in setting restitution resulting in ownership for the decision and its fulfillment.
VORP gives the offender a chance to become a productive rather than a dependent member of the community.
VORP helps stop the cycle of crime for many offenders.
Criminal Justice Officials benefit since VORP offers judges, police, and probation officers an alternative to incarceration and other sanctions which is less costly and opens the door to an increased understanding and positive attitude toward the system by victims, offenders, and community volunteers.
Communities benefit because resolution and restitution are more productive and less expensive than some other alternatives and because communication and reconciliation offer opportunity to repair the breach in the community. Volunteers receive satisfaction from helping others become reconciled. Volunteers also learn to deal with their own personal relationships in a more conciliatory manner.
Updated 10/11/04 by Webmaster.
For information about VORP in Fresno today please contact:
© 2021 Duane Ruth-Heffelbower