“I thought I Was Alone”—a Crime Victim’s story in Ohio
RJI is always encouraged when we hear from victims of crime who want to tell their stories. A victim of crime, Lynette, from the state of Ohio contacted us regarding a “victims right to meet.” She wanted to let us know that she agreed with RJI’s position that legislators, and governmental officials, should let victims meet their offenders in prison if they choose to do so. But she also told us more of her story.
Lynette had been stabbed by her offender 20 years ago. She survived. On her own Lynette found a way to go inside the prison where her offender was serving his time. She told us that he took responsibility for his crimes. Lynette also told us she chose to forgive the man who stabbed her. Visits between Lynette and her offender continued—a one on one dialogue between the two without a faciliator or mediator. Suddenly the state stopped the visits. Lynette stated the following: “I took a letter of support to the parole board on his behalf. At that time my visits were stopped.”
Lynette and her offender intended, and still plan, to work together to have a “ministry of forgiveness,” she says. Lynette told RJI, “Lawmakers should give victims the right to meet their offenders. I want my offender to go forward and prosper in his life. ”
Restorative justice should be available to all victims of crime. Some do not know that “it” has a name but it does. Lynette found restorative justice and it brought healing 20 years later not only to her as the victim of violent crime but to her offender as well. Why would a state stop such visits when both victim and offender profit? For true rehabilitation to occur in the life of the offender he must understand the impact his crime had on his victim. For a degree of healing to occur in the life of the crime victim restorative justice sets the stage for this type of restoration.
I told Lynette that there were many other victims of crime who like her chose to meet their offenders. Some of those victims chose to forgive their offenders as well. Lynette said, “I thought I was alone. ” You are not. Victims are increasingly learning about restorative justice. They want the option to meet their offender and participate in a restorative justice dialogue. We must not shut that door.