Crime Victim Considerations for Parole Professionals
Amanda Pyron, Carl Wicklund  -  2014/7/16
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
What are your thoughts on making available Victim Offender Mediations for those who request the process regardless of status? And, would you be willing to supply information about Victim Offender Mediation to the victims of crime as well as the offender?
 
1.  Carl Wicklund
 More appropriately referred to as Victim/Offender Dialogue. I think it is a good practice to have this type of choice available and provide information on it if the victim requests, the offender is willing and well prepared and that whoever oversees the process is well-trained. No one should be pushed to do it.
 
 
Do you have any recommendations on how to improve victim impact curricula? Specifically, I am looking for any programs that have been evaluated to positive impacts on participants.
 
1.  Carl Wicklund
 I assume you are referring to victim impact panels (?). If so, it depends on what you are trying to measure - e.g. victim satisfaction or offender change.
 
2.  Amanda Pyron
 Are you inquiring about training curricula for staff? If so, OVC has a great video and is developing additional resources for paroling professionals. Victim Impact, Listen and Learn is available at https://www.ovcttac.gov/VictimImpact/index.cfm
 
 
Do you have experience with assigning staff to specialized caseloads focuing on issues such as sexual assault? Have you found that it is beneficial?
 
1.  Amanda Pyron
 Hi- The Commission has a specialized mental health unit to address cases of offenders with documented mental health issues who have received administrative violations or committed nonviolent crimes. This seems to be going well. There has been discussion of creating a separate unit for domestic violence and sexual assault cases but this has not yet been established. Cases with vulnerable victims (children, the elderly, those with physical and mental health challenges) and sexual assault cases receive increased review by the Victims Support Program prior to a parole or revocation hearing.
 
2.  Carl Wicklund
 There are a number of agencies that have specialized sex offender caseloads and some larger depts. may have victim service staff that focus on helping sex assault victims. To which are you referring?
 
 
Looking for good materials to help with writing a victim impact statement, can you help direct me?
 
1.  Carl Wicklund
 If my last post isn't what you are looking for, contact me and I can get you some more leads
 
2.  Carl Wicklund
 Try this: http://www.victimsofcrime.org/library/publications/archive/promising-practices-and-strategies-for-victim-services-in-corrections#VictimImpactStatements
 
3.  Amanda Pyron
 I do not know of any specific materials. However, I have asked the US Parole Commissioners what they prefer to see in a Victim Impact Statement. Each Commissioner has stressed how important it is for the victims to tell their story in their own words. Our Commissioners want to know the continued impact of the crime on the individual victim and why that victim opposes or supports parole. Our Commissioners understand how difficult it can be for victims to re-tell their story and they respect the willingness of the victims to do so.
 
 
How do I encourage victims to continue involvement in parole cases that are ancient?
 
1.  Amanda Pyron
 Ms. Collins, do you promote the program or your parole cases? This may help victims stay involved. Once we added more information on our website about the Victims Support Program, we began receiving more calls for cases in which victims had not previously been involved. We also receive a good amount of calls for state cases, which we forward out to the states.
 
2.  Sherri Collins
 We only have parole for cases from before 1995. I am the assigned prosecutor for my office to provide input to the Commission at the hearings. They rule contemporaneously at the hearing.
 
3.  Amanda Pyron
 I think victims ultimately have to make the decision to participate for themselves. Some victims simply cannot handle the emotional toll of participating in the legal process for decades. However, I think it is important to explain to victims the value of their testimony to parole boards and the value of their participation in the criminal justice system. For some victims, participating the parole process can validate what happened to them and assist in the healing process. For me, this is one of those issues I have to handle on an individualized basis. Are you with a Commission? Are your Commissioners willing to personally thank victims for participating? I'm curious...
 
4.  Carl Wicklund
 You may also consider asking the victim to do an updated victim impact statement so they don't have to continue their involvement and the statement can go on record
 
5.  Carl Wicklund
 If they are ambivalent, I would suggest you continue to let them know about events. If they choose not to be informed, you should honor that request. At all times, the victim should be calling the shots on their level of involvement
 
 
Any thought to publishing a list of what constitutes public information in regards to parole hearings----most victims have no clue as to what information they are entitled to have
 
1.  Carl Wicklund
 I think all victims should have provided to them what is and what is not public information. It should be part of any outreach. Each state may have different laws and regs though
 
 
Is there a notification system (release, parole, escape) in place for victims whose offenders are serving time in federal custody?
 
1.  Amanda Pyron
 Yes! The Department of Justice operates the Victim Notification System (VNS). www.notify.usdoj.gov is the website. Crime victims may contact the prosecuting office, Bureau of Prisons or the United States Parole Commission to be registered in VNS.
 
 
Would love to see a state by state listing as to how long it takes for a decision from the parole board--for example in Texas a notification letter is sent out advising it normally takes 4-6 months for a decision which essentially puts victims in a holding pattern
 
1.  Debbie
 In SC, outcome notifications are immediate for those crime victims that attend the parole hearing. As soon as the Board makes their decision, a member of the Office of Victim Services staff leaves the hearing room and reports the results to the victim in the outcome waiting room.
 
2.  Amanda Pyron
 The US Parole Commission typically issues decisions in 4-6 weeks. It can be frustrating for victims to wait on a final decision. I just try to remind them that the Inmate remains incarcerated during this time and make myself available to answer any questions or talk during the waiting period.
 
3.  Carl Wicklund
 I would suggest you contact the Assn of Paroling Authorities International at: http://www.apaintl.org/ They have information on the various state parole processes and may be able to answer your question
 
 
What techniques can be used to encourage victim sensitivity training for pardon and parole board members? Board members can do damage to victims protesting if they aren't careful. How can we as victim advocates stand up for the rights of victims with boards that hold so much power?
 
1.  Carl Wicklund
 You may also consider asking for a meeting with the parole board chair to discuss your concerns and offer to provide some tips for being more victim sensitive
 
2.  Carl Wicklund
 I would suggest that you contact the Assn of Paroling Authorities International- http://www.apaintl.org/ They do a lot of trng with parole boards and they may be able to assist
 
 
Would the APPA consider doing research and publishing a state listing of what constitutes public information that victims are entitled to know.
 
1.  Carl Wicklund
 We would certainly consider it. I will pose this request to our Victims Issues Committee. I think it would be a helpful tool. This may be something that OVC may want to support as well.
 
 
What level of participation from victims are you seeing allowed during parole hearings? What security measures are you seeing implemented during the hearing? Have you seen any restriction on submitting vs reading impact statements (ie you must pick one you canít do both)?
 
1.  Carl Wicklund
 this varies from state to state. I do know that victims are allowed greater participation than in the past. Some hearing are also allowing victims to attend via computer (Skpe-like) to better protect victims and not make them travel. I am not aware of limiting the type of involvement
 
 
Are you seeing travel restrictions implemented in parole hearings? If so to what degree town or county?
 
1.  Amanda Pyron
 The Commission issues any travel restrictions with the parole decision. Most of these decisions are "stay away" orders to protect victims and rarely encompass a large geographic area. One Inmate was instructed to stay away from a Native American reservation as he was no longer welcome there. The Commission works with the US Probation Office and the supervising agency in DC to determine acceptable travel while an offender is on supervision.
 
2.  Carl Wicklund
 Travel restrictions or more accurately restrictions to stay certain distances from a victim are relatively common
 
3.  Amanda Pyron
 The Commission conducts some hearings in person and some via video. Hearings are conducted via video unless the Federal Circuit court for the jurisdiction in which the prisoner resides has ruled that the Commission must conduct the hearings in-person.
 
4.  JCDW
 Travel restrictions for the Parolee to stay out of certain towns or counties where the victim or their families live?
 
5.  Carl Wicklund
 Restrictions on who? Some states are moving to video enabled hearings for all involved due to distance, cost and inconvenience.
 
Return to Discussion