1987 Finalist
Winners:
State of Oklahoma
1987
Publication:
Innovations in American Government Awards
Organization:
Innovations in American Government Awards
Jurisdiction:
Oklahoma

The Department of Corrections established the Post-Conviction Mediation Program in order to meet its responsibility under the 120 Day Judicial Review statute of Oklahoma. The statute provides, in part, that within 120 days after a sentence is imposed or probation has been revoked, the court may modify the ruling it is satisfied that the best interest of the public will not be jeopardized.

Furthermore, the statute states that the Department of Corrections shall provide the court imposing a sentence of revocation of probation with a report and any other information on an inmate the department can supply. The court take the report into consideration when modifying the sentence or revoking probation. Then, the Department of Corrections will prepare and submit a rehabilitation plan and sentence modification plan to the court. As part of the plan, a mediation hearing will be held between the offender and victim so that the terms of the mediation agreement are incorporated into the plan before submission to the sentencing court.

Since January 1984, the Department of Corrections’ Post-Conviction Mediation Program has brought both the offender and victims of crimes together in an out-of-court structured mediation hearing with a third party mediator. This forum allows the victim to have some input into the modification plan. The victim and offender's input may address other alternatives to incarceration such as restitution, community service, substance abuse treatment, education, and counseling.

The Post-Conviction Mediation Program attempts to respond to victims' needs. Victims and offenders who agree to participate have an opportunity to express their feelings about what happened and discuss what else should be done to compensate the victim and society. This process also encourages the offender to be accountable for their actions along with a rare opportunity of meeting face-to-face with the victim. The program serves all 77 counties in the state of Oklahoma.

The program is available to all offenders within the care and custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections who are otherwise eligible for consideration under the 120 Day Judicial Review statute. Victims of crimes committed by offenders eligible for the 120 Judicial Review Plan are also served by the program. Both the victim and the offender must agree to voluntarily participate in a mediation hearing.

Indications of the success of this program include victims’ willingness to participate in a mediation hearing with an offender, the extent of restoration for the victim, and cost-savings achieved by program operation. To date, the program has conducted over 500 hearings between victim and offender. In one year, the program’s mediation efforts have also resulted in $300,000 in restitution agreements and $13,000 paid into the victim compensation fund. And, since community supervision is much less costly than incarceration, the net savings resulting from modifications of sentences was $347,749 from March 1984 through August 1985.