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Defense-Initiated Victim Outreach in Virginia Capital Cases: An Introduction

NCJ Number
Maryl Sattler
Date Published
14 pages
This paper describes the use of defense-initiated victim outreach in capital cases in the State of Virginia.
Defense-initiated victim outreach (DIVO) is based on the idea of restorative justice and has three intended purposes: 1) to provide survivors with an additional means to access information and services; 2) to reduce the pain inflicted on survivors by the criminal justice process, and 3) to provide a means by which defense counsel can convey respect and compassion to survivors. The main intent of DIVO is to open a line of communication between victim survivors and the defense team, thus reducing the tension and anger that is part of the adversarial court system. This paper describes the need for DIVO, which is to determine if victim survivors have any needs that the defense may be able to address. The paper also addresses why DIVO is important to the defense, and how it is now being used in the State of Virginia, especially in capital cases involving the death penalty. Finally, the paper describes a process for implementing DIVO which involves 1) initial contact with the victim's family, and 2) finding and training the victim liaison.