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Document Type

Article

Abstract

Since the 1970's, victim-offender mediation (VOM) has increased in use, most commonly with minor offenses. More recently, VOM has been sparingly applied to serious and violent crimes, including "rape, vehicular homicide, attempted homicide, and murder." Death penalty cases have rarely been the focus of restorative justice or VOM, likely because the victim has died and the offender will soon be executed, and these two parties are traditionally the focus of restorative justice. However, while capital cases involve unique concerns and issues, VOM can still be applied in these cases. The process would only require some modification of the focus and application of VOM, such as expanding the notion of the "victim" to include all other harmed parties. Application of restorative justice theories is needed in capital cases, not to replace punishment, but to work in conjunction with criminal adjudication. Specifically, implementation of VOM programs in capital cases should be promoted as an option after sentencing, assuming careful screening of each case and voluntary participation by all parties. This paper will discuss the background of restorative justice and VOM, and how traditional methods would need to be adapted for application with capital cases. This paper also will address the benefits VOM would provide victims, offenders, and family members. Next, this paper will discuss why VOM would be effective in capital cases. Finally, this paper will address concerns which may arise from VOM's use in capital cases.