Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Victim Impact Panel -- An Observer's Review

Our monthly Victim Impact Panel met last night at the Batavia City Centre. A video on the consequences of drunk driving was followed by two very engaging, emotional and honest talks by Brenda Van Horn, who lost a son to a DWI almost nine years ago, and our own David G. Markham, whose two youngest children were killed by a drunk driver in 1993.

Let me tell you what was most interesting to me, as an observer. As people were just arriving, one attendee came in with what seemed to be an emotionally impervious, "I-could-care-less" attitude. But once David was well into his talk, I glanced over -- and it looked like this person was getting misty-eyed.

You almost have to be at a V.I.P. session to truly understand what it's all about. What V.I.P. illustrates is not some wishy-washy, hippie-happy hugfest; nor, on the other hand, is it some vindictive, condemnatory, finger-wagging forum. What V.I.P. does is draw upon the principles of Restorative Justice in order to help people realize how their actions affect others, themselves, and the community as a whole, and to encourage them in their ability to become part of the solution rather than the problem. Those in attendance were asked to fill out an evaluative survey and offer comments afterwards; the resulting comments suggested appreciable changes of minds and hearts.

Hats off to Brenda and Dave for opening up about such a painful and personal topic. By doing so, they may have helped to save many lives. Hats off also to Laura Ricci, who did a marvelous job of coordinating the program. Go Laura!

1 comment:

No fool said...

Misty eyed?

I've seen a lot of misty eyed drunks and druggies.

Biggest cons in the world.