What should a victim/survivor do in order to participate in a victim impact panel?
Contact the Victim Services Division office at (800) 848-4284 and ask for the Victim Impact Panel Program. Information about the program is also available on the TDCJ website.
Does the offender have to be in prison in order for a victim/survivor to be a panelist?
Not necessarily; however, if charges were filed, the case must have already been adjudicated. It cannot be pending in the court system. The VIP Program does allow victims or survivors whose cases are unsolved or were never prosecuted to speak on panels.
What does a victim/survivor gain from being on a victim impact panel?
The road of recovery is a personal journey, and is experienced in various ways by different individuals. Victims who have participated have reported a sense of empowerment and healing as a result of their participation. The main purpose of the program is to provide this forum for victims so they may obtain support, validation and affirmation, and derive whatever healing they can from speaking on a panel.
Why are victim impact panels used in trainings for criminal justice professionals?
It is important that professionals in the field of criminal justice are cognizant of victims’ issues and aware of resources and best practices when coming into contact or working with victims. The use of victim impact panels in conjunction with training heightens the criminal justice professional’s awareness and sensitivity to the needs of the victim, and personalizes the effects of crime, reminding the professional that there is ‘another side to the story’.
Why are victim impact panels provided for offenders?
Victims do not make the choice to become victims, but are involuntarily introduced to the criminal justice system and may suffer a lifetime of painful repercussions from the crime. Panelists help offenders realize the lasting and long-term effects of their crime. This raises awareness and addresses accountability for offenders, many of whom subsequently express remorse for their actions and report having a better understanding of the widespread negative results of criminal behavior.
What should an offender do when/if court ordered to attend a victim impact panel?
An offender should first ask the supervising court or probation department if there is a designated location/date/time to attend a panel. If their sentence is for an alcohol/substance abuse related offense such as DWI, the offender can also contact the local Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) chapter and inquire whether they conduct regularly scheduled VIPs at a location near them. Most counties in the state of Texas allows individuals to complete online versions of the victim impact panel. Keep in mind that the TX VIP Program is in no way affiliated with MADD, but is an alternative to these traditional panels.
How does the online victim impact panel work?
Once you have registered for the panel, you will be able to review the assigned study material. Once you have completed reviewing a victim impact video, you will have access to a quiz that you must receive a 100% score to pass. You may take the quiz as many times as needed until you have received a passing score. Once you have passed the test, you will receive a verification letter on our letterhead via email only. You may turn this letter into the judge, attorney, probation officer or sponsor to receive credit for the panel.
How long before I can access the panel?
You will be automatically directed to the panel once you have paid for access. You will have the option to complete the panel immediately or bookmark the panel page to access at a later date.
How soon can I receive my verification letter?
You will receive your victim impact letter of completion via email within 24 hours of passing the final quiz.
Will there be any additional costs for mailing my verification letter?
No. All costs are included in the price to access the panel.
How long does it take to complete the panel?
Most individuals complete the panel within 2 hours. You may pause and come back to the panel whenever you need to. We suggest you bookmark the panel page so that you may access it at any time.
What if my letter of completion is not accepted?
In extremely rare circumstances, your county may not accept online completed panels. If you have completed our panel but was later told that it could not be accepted, click here to contact us. We will make every effort to resolve any issues that are preventing your letter of completion from being accepted. If we are unable to get your letter accepted we will process a refund for the cost of registration ($40.00). Refunds are verified in your district and are processed within 24 hours. It can take up to 5-10 business days to show up on your statement.
Do I have to pass the test the first time?
No. You may take the quiz as many times as you need to pass for up to 30 days. Individuals found submitting random answers to the quiz may be contacted via phone or email to set up a proctored quiz to ensure that the panel has been watched. We suggests that you watch the entire panel and take notes before attempting to take the quiz.