VOS

Victim Outreach Specialists

Victim Outreach Specialists serve crime victims by communicating their
requests to attorneys for the defendant.

Victim Outreach Specialists
A Victim Outreach Specialist (VOS) is an expert consultant with knowledge and skills in crime-related trauma, capital case procedure, theory and practice of victim rights, and the theory and practice of restorative justice.  The mission of the VOS is to help victim-survivors and other crime victims identity needs that can be addressed through direct and indirect contact with the defense.  The VOS works on behalf of victim-survivors, serving as a liaison for their needs and concerns. The VOS is not a core member of the defense team.   As a bridge, the VOS may play the following roles:

A channel of communication between victim-survivors and the defense.
Survivors may want their concerns or feelings made known to the defense. Survivors may want to know the nature of upcoming hearings from the perspective of the defense.
A seeker of information for survivors.
Survivors may have questions about the crime, the nature of the defendant, the motives or actions of the defense, etc.
A compassionate listener.
Survivors may need a listening ear or "non-anxious presence" who, without judgment, allows people to tell their stories and express their feelings while maintaining confidences.
An interpreter.
Survivors may want someone to listen and help identify needs that result from going through the criminal justice process.
A problem solver.
Survivors may want assistance from someone who creatively looks for ways to address needs that are expressed or problems that arise.
A dialogue facilitator.
Survivors may wish to talk with or meets together with the defense.
A negotiator.
Survivors may need a go-between with the defense for crafting a plea agreement that reflects survivors' wishes.
An educator.
Survivors may want to better understand the legal process. Survivors may want the defense to better understand their perspective as a crime victim.

A VOS is not a therapist.   A VOS is not a conduit for the defense or its agenda.

Victim Outreach Specialists consist of victim advocates, clergypersons, mental health professionals, restorative justice practitioners, and criminal justice professionals.   VOS are personally selected for their skills and life experience by DIVO staff and, based on the program’s needs, are provided a 40-hour training for initial certification.