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Oakland Victim–Offender Reconciliation Program

Ages 7-15

Rating: Level 3


The Victim–Offender Reconciliation Program in Oakland, Calif., serves the Bay Area east of San Francisco. It was initiated in 1987 by the Office for Prisoner and Community Justice of Catholic Charities/Oakland Diocese. The program is designed to provide victims with the opportunity to meet their offenders in a safe and structured setting for dialog, negotiation, and problem solving. It serves both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, which together represent a large urban multicultural jurisdiction with a population of nearly 2 million. The program handles some 500 cases a year.


The Oakland Victim–Offender Reconciliation Program participated in the first large cross-site evaluation of victim–offender mediation services. The other programs studied were located in Albuquerque, N.M.; Austin, Texas; and Minneapolis, Minn. The study used a nonequivalent control group design with pretest and posttest. The comparison group at each site consisted of similar offenders from the same jurisdiction matched by age, sex, race, offense, and restitution amount who did not receive mediation. The data was collected through interviews with 1,153 crime victims and juvenile offenders, reviews of program records and court records, interviews with court officials and program staff, and observation of 28 mediation sessions. Pre- and post-interviews were used to assess the impact of the program. Pre-interviews occurred only with the mediation sample and were conducted over the phone within a week of the mediation. Post-interviews were held 2 months after the completion of the mediation session. Comparison group interviews occurred over the phone about 2 months after the case disposition date. Among the outcome measures used to examine this program were client satisfaction, client perceptions of fairness, restitution rates, completion rates, and recidivism.


The evaluation findings demonstrate that victim–offender mediation at each site resulted in juvenile offenders committing considerably fewer additional crimes during the 1-year follow-up period than similar offenders in the court-administered restitution program. They also tended to commit crimes that were less serious than the offense of referral. It should be noted, however, that this finding is not statistically significant. Thus the possibility that this effect can occur by chance cannot be ruled out. The evaluation also found high levels of client satisfaction (90 percent of victims and 91 percent of offenders) and perceptions of fairness (83 percent of victims and 89 percent of offenders). Moreover, victims who participated in the mediation process were significantly more likely to view the system as fair than similar victims who did not participate in mediation. The mediation process also had a strong impact on the likelihood of offenders’ successfully completing their restitution obligation to their victims.


Umbreit, Mark S., and Robert B. Coates. 1992. Victim–Offender Mediation: An Analysis of Programs in Four States of the U.S. Minneapolis, Minn.: Minnesota Citizens Council on Crime and Justice.

———. 1993. “Cross-Site Analysis of Victim–Offender Mediation in Four States.” Crime and Delinquency 39(4):565–85.


Daina Landeza
Oakland VORP/Youth Community Violence Prevention Program of Catholic Charities
433 Jefferson Street
Oakland, CA 94607
Phone: (510) 768-3107
Web site: