Community Conferencing Center

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Serious Crimes Conferencing

Providing Victims, Offenders and their Supporters an Opportunity for Understanding and Healing

Online Discussion Washington Post Magazine contributor Karen Houppert, Baltimore resident Bernard Williams and Lauren Abramson, director of Community Conferencing were online 3/23 discussing Houppert's Post Magazine cover story, 'The Truth About Forgiveness,' and the work Abramson's organization does to facilitate reconciliation and healing; from the Washington Post Magazine, March 23.

The Truth About Forgiveness After his son was murdered, Bernard Williams becames consumed by anger and depression.  There was, he came to realize, only one way to save himself; Washington Post Magazine, March 22.

A Serious Crimes Conference brings together victims, offenders, and their respective supporters who are interested in an opportunity for further understanding, and healing in the wake of a serious crime.   

A Serious Crimes Conference gives everyone a chance to say what they need to say, and to ask questions they may have wanted to ask.  Offenders have a chance to better understand the impact of their behavior on the victims, on themselves and on the community.  Victims get a chance to let the offender know how they have been affected by the incident.  In addition, families can be part of the process of healing and moving forward.

The facilitator conducts extensive face-to-face preparation with participants before a Serious Crimes Conference can occur.

Participation is always voluntary.   This process is often extremely helpful for both victims and offenders.

What kinds of cases are eligible?

Any serious offense where both the victim and the offender are interested in participating in a Serious Crimes Conference as a means of either healing and/or seeking ways to move forward in their lives in a more positive way.  This is a voluntary process for both victims and offenders.

The Community Conferencing Center works closely with victims groups and with prison staff to identify eligible cases.   Certain eligibility criteria would apply.  Exclusions include: 

  1. psychopathic or otherwise seriously emotionally unhealthy, 
  2. active drug use, 
  3. active gang membership.

Where would the Conference take place?

The Conference would take place in the prison, at a time that is convenient for the institution as well as for the participants.  If the offender is no longer incarcerated, the conference takes place at a location that is safe and convenient for the participants.

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