VOMA Quarterly

VOMA Committee Reports

by Lorraine Stutzman-Amstutz and Bruce Kittle, Co-Chairs

VOMA has undergone a significant amount of change over the past year. It feels as if we've moved from the "sleep-deprivation stage" after a birth, into watching the toddler take off and run. We have made a successful transition to our new administrative entity, Restorative Justice Institute, and as of the last VOMA Board election in June, we have increased our Board from eleven to fifteen active and committed board members. Our first meeting together was at the Des Moines Conference last September, where we made the decision to discontinue board meetings on the internet and to empower committees to carry out the work of the Association. We continue to encourage members to join VOMA committees (Committee Chairs are listed after each name under the Board list). We welcome your comments, suggestions and willingness to join committees in setting goals and objectives for the upcoming year. At our 14th annual conference in Des Moines, we explored the theme "Restorative Justice and Community Transformation."  It was exciting to have Kay Pranis and Judge Barry Stuart bring their combined knowledge and experience about restorative justice and community building.  Their presentation challenged all of us to continue to work at transforming our communities and the criminal justice structures we work with through the development of relationships within our communities, rather than through the imposition of power from the structures themselves.  They reminded us to take the structures out into the community, rather than try to get the community to come into the structures. We thank them for their willingness to be with us at the Conference. As a Board and as an organization, we too have been called upon to look at relationships, beginning with ways to be more inclusive of different programmatic models. Our renewed emphasis on inclusiveness has also raised our awareness of the much needed work we have to do in the area of cultural and racial diversity. As we look at our commitment to create change within our communities and criminal justice structures, we must also be committed to including all of the voices represented, including our communities, the criminal justice structures we work in, and our own association as well.  Your suggestions and willingness to help us in determining how VOMA can meet this exciting challenge are welcome. Finally, we thank you for your work in the field of restorative justice and in victim offender mediation.  As board members of VOMA, we truly believe that all of us working together can bring about a change in how our society thinks and responds to crime and conflict.  As an organization and as members of the Board, we are committed to assisting you do that in any way we can.  Please get involved and help us make VOMA the type of organization you want it to be.  And remember, the Board and the organization are here to serve members.  We can't do that if you don't let us know what you need. Call, write or e-mail us.  We look forward to working together with you during 1998.

by Marty Price and Kathy Hall

The Conference Program and Site Committee are pleased to announce that the 15th Annual VOMA Training Institute and Conference will be held in Tucson, Arizona, at the Holiday Inn City Center, from Tuesday, September 15 through Saturday, September 19th. Mark these important dates on your calendars now!
The theme of the Training Institute and Conference will be "Innovative Practices in Restorative Justice and Victim-Offender Mediation." The Institute and Conference will seek to stimulate discussion and the sharing of experience around these questions:
-What innovative practices in victim-offender mediation are being used; how do they work and how well do they work?
-What other innovative practices and programs of Restorative Justice are being used; how do they work and how well do they work?
-How can we determine whether programs that are being labeled "Restorative Justice," are truly restorative?
-What is the importance of community involvement and how can it be achieved?
-What standards and guidelines are needed to assure that Restorative Justice programs will provide their services competently and ethically?
As in past years, there will be a three-day Training Institute, followed by two days of Conference workshops. As always, a five-day "beginning track" will address the needs of those who come to learn the basics of victim-offender mediation and restorative justice-how to mediate juvenile offenses/criminal cases and how to set up and run a victim-offender mediation program.
For the first time, this year, as a part of our "Innovative Practices" theme, we will be offering a Training and Conference "track" devoted to the mediation of severely violent crimes. Other "tracks" will focus on a variety of intermediate and advanced issues.
Watch for more details in upcoming issues of the VOMA Quarterly and in the Training Institute and Conference brochure.