Restorative Justice Panel at Nebraska Coalition for Victims of Crime Conference

Restorative Justice Panel at Nebraska Coalition for Victims of Crime Conference

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Office of Dispute Resolution’s (ODR) Alisha Jimenez and The Mediation Center’s (Lincoln) Clare Nelson co-moderated a victim impact panel at the Nebraska Coalition for Victims of Crime’s annual Crime Victim Rights Conference and presented a brief lesson in restorative justice (RJ) principles and practice. The “Victim Empowerment Panel” featured victims from across Nebraska who participated in an RJ process through one of ODR’s approved centers to heal and recover from the harm they experienced.

The panel consisted of four individuals who had been harmed in various ways. One of the victim’s daughter was injured in a car accident, one victim’s box store had a cashier steal a large amount of money over a period of several weeks, another victim had their rental car stolen while her partner was undergoing medical treatment at the med center, and the final panelist was a high school principal who had a student become physically and verbally violent in the administration office.

Each panelist shared their individual stories and how they were impacted both in short-term and long-term ways. The father whose daughter had been injured shared the ongoing fear his daughter has of driving. The woman whose car was stolen shared that she can no longer rent a car from a rental company. The store manager expressed his sadness over an employee he thought was an honest person but had violated that trust. The high school principal stated that she did not expect to be as personally impacted by the restorative justice process as she was.

Every panelist said that they were grateful to be able to share with the offender how they were personally impacted by the offender’s action, and in return, have the offender acknowledge their actions. It was expressed by several of the panelists that being able to engage in a dialogue with the offender helped to start or to continue their healing process from the incident.  

All of the panelists also expressed wanting their offender to be able to move forward and for the offender to start their healing as well. They all voiced that they probably would not have had these kinds of empathetic feelings for their offender had they not been part of the restorative justice process and that the opportunity to share how this had impacted them with their offender was more valuable than they had expected.

Photo – Top: Alisha Jimenez, Office of Dispute Resolution; Bottom: Clare Nelson, The Mediation Center (Lincoln)