Restorative Justice World

Connecting the World of Restorative & Community Justice

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Conference script


Revised  Jan. 26, 2012



Adapted from (alphabetical): Community Justice Boards programs of Pima County and Yuma County Attorneys in Arizona, USA; Conferencing Handbook, The New RealJustice Training Manual, by Terry O’Connell, Ben Wachtel & Ted Wachtel; The Pocket Guide to Restorative Justice, by Pete Wallis & Barbara Tudor and Restorative Justice Training Modules of New Zealand Department for Courts. Also included are ideas developed from role plays conducted with volunteers and college students)

1.   Preamble  (avoid using the terms “Victim” or “Offenderwhen speaking to the parties)  Take your time going through the Introductions,  Welcome and Groundrules .  This gives people time to feel comfortable.




Welcome.  As you know, our names are _____________ and we will be facilitating this conference.”


     Now introduce each conference participant and state his/her relationship to the offender or victim. ( It is usually better for you to introduce each person and their relationship to the parties rather than have them introduce themselves.)


Find out (ahead of time) how each person would like to be addressed, write it down if necessary.




      “Thank you all for attending.  I know that this is difficult for all of you, but your presence will help us deal with the matter that has brought us together.  This is an opportunity for all of you to be involved in repairing the harm that has been done.”




Respect and courtesy.


Please allow each person to have their turn to speak without being interrupted.


We will begin with __________, (offender), the person who caused the harm.

At any time,  __________, (victim) the person who was harmed, may ask questions.


Others are asked to hold their comments until their turn to speak.


After everyone has had their say,  I will make sure that each of you has the chance to ask questions or respond to what others have said.


We are not here to argue about what happened.  ___________(offender) has agreed that the offense was committed.


We ask that those who speak do so truthfully.


Each person is to speak only for themselves and not to advocate or speak for another person present.


This conference is not open to the public and we ask each participant to honor confidentiality by not discussing personal details revealed by participants.


Anyone may ask for a break at any time.


Either party (victim or offender) may end the conference if they no longer wish to continue to participate.  Any supporter may withdraw from the conference if they no longer wish to be included.




      “This conference will focus on an incident which happened (state the date, place and nature of offense without elaboration). It is important to understand that we will focus on how (victim name) was harmed and how the unacceptable actions of (offender name)   have affected others.  We are not here to decide whether (offender name) is good or bad.  We want to explore in what way people have been affected and hopefully work toward repairing the harm that has resulted.  Does everyone understand this?”


Say to victim and offender:  “I must tell both of you that you do not have to participate in this conference and are free to leave at any time, as is anyone else.  Do you understand?”


(Offender name)  admits to his/her part in this incident.   This is a summary of what happened:

     [Read a summary of facts which offender has agreed to in advance.}




2.   Offender


“We’ll start with (offender name).”


  • What happened?  (If offender is going on  overly long with this, you may interject with the next questions about thoughts and feelings to keep the focus on the effects of the crime and how to respond to them, rather than the crime itself).
  • What were you thinking about at that time?
  • How were you feeling?
  • What have you thought about since the incident?
  • What do you think about it now?
  • How do you feel now?
  • Who do you think has been affected by your actions?
  • How have they been affected?
  • Is there anything you would like to say to (victim name) at this time?


Thank you for what you have shared.  We will now find out how your actions affected others.   We will come back to you so that you may respond to what they have said.


3.   Victim(s)


If there is more than one victim, have each respond to all of the following questions.

  • How did you find out about what happened?
  • What was your reaction?

(If necessary, ask “what were you thinking” and “how did you feel”)

  • How do you feel now about what happened?
  • How have you been affected by the incident?
  • What has been the hardest thing for you?
  • How did your family and friends react when they heard about the incident?
  • Are there any questions you would like to ask (offender name)?


4.   Victim Supporters.


      Have each respond to all of the following questions.


  • Can you remember your first thoughts when you heard about the incident?
  • How do you feel now about what happened?
  • What has been the hardest thing for you?
  • How do you feel about what has happened since?
  • What do you think are the main issues?


  1. Offender Supporters.


      Have each offender supporter respond to the following questions:


  • How is it for you to listen to this?
  • What did you think at the time when you heard about the incident?
  • How do you feel about what happened?
  • What has been the hardest thing for you?
  • What has happened since?
  • What do you think are the main issues?




6.   Offender.


      Ask the offender:  “Is there anything you want to say at this time?”


7.   Victim.


Ask the Victim(s):  What would you like from today’s conference?  What would you like to see happen as a result of what has been said here today?  


Ask the Offender to respond:    Does that seem fair?  Do you think you can do that? Can you suggest anything else that could be done to put this right?


8.  Discussion of what “offender” can do to help make amends for the harm caused by their bad choices.


9.  Agreement in writing (sometimes)


If the victim expresses an interest in having defendant engage in therapy, pay restitution, get a GED, etc.,  this may be written into an agreement to be signed, at this conference, by defendant, victim and facilitators.


Follow-up conferences to hold defendant accountable to victim for carrying out the agreement may be scheduled.  Or the victim may be encouraged to check with defendant’s probation officer to see what progress is being made.






8.   Closing the Conference.


      “Before I formally close this conference, I would like to provide everyone with a

       final opportunity to speak.  Is there anything anyone wants to say?


       Allow for participants to respond and when they are done, say:


      “Thank you for your contributions in dealing with this difficult matter. 

        Congratulations on the way you have worked through the issues. 


If  participants wish to stay and informally chat with one another afterward, you should remain to make sure the conversation remains emotionally safe and respectful.  


When the conference is finished,  request  offender and offender supporters to wait while victim and victim supporters leave first.


Allow time for victim and victim supporters to drive/walk away before offender and supporters leave.





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