Victim Impact Programming

So long as a person is capable of self-renewal they are a living being.
Henri-Frederic Amiel

As advocates for victims, if we are truly serious about preventing crime, then we must turn attention to the very individuals that we know are capable of creating victims – the offenders.   For the last seven years, Verna and Valerie have worked with incarcerated men, women, and juveniles presenting victim impact programming.  Pre and post-tests showed a dramatic improvement in the offender’s attitudes about victims and the long-term impact of crime.  Anecdotal communication with prison and jail officials provided the insight that the behavior of inmates improved after taking victim impact programming.  Disclosures of past abuses began occurring during our victim impact class with juvenile offenders, giving the counselors working with them new insight needed to target the problem areas that were most certainly driving their negative behaviors. Valerie and Verna discuss victim impact.

Valerie and Verna met Hector Black in 2005 when they were first beginning their work with victim impact. Their paths crossed when Verna was speaking out for victims whose murderers were on death row, being a voice for them, and Hector was on the other side of the issue, a victim, who was against the death penalty. From that initial meeting, we knew that Hector was an amazing human being, and that his story of forgiveness, and the back story of his work during the civil rights movement, could be an incredibly powerful tool in the victim impact classes. Hector would drive more than 80 miles one way to speak to the inmates, and every time, you would see inmates, hardened by life, weep as he shared his story. It was powerful for the victim – Hector – to regain some power over the senseless murder of his daughter, and it was equally powerful for the inmates to receive that story. This is a great example of how victims can make some kind of good come out of something hopelessly bad. Watch Hector’s story.

TVFV is available to facilitate victim impact classes for incarcerated adults and juveniles in the Nashville area. We can also provide train-the-trainer sessions at any location for employees who want to learn how to conduct victim impact classes. Contact sara.kemp@tnvoicesforvictims.org for more information.

Following the training I was able to take back to my facility new techniques and procedures that I needed and used to get to the root of a problem and offer meaningful solutions and resolved feelings to those affected.  Also by attending this training I decided to further my education by pursing my Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice. I graduated in February 2012.   

 – Patricia Spears, Compliance Manager, Mark Luttrell Correctional Center