Victims� Reconciliation organization gets new name, new director

Victimsâ�?�? Reconciliation organization gets new name, new director The board of directors of the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program of Southeast South Dakota has changed the organization's name to RESTORE, Inc.  In addition, Dr. John Gehm of Sioux Falls has been named director of the organization, with the retirement of Lois Preheim of Freeman, who directed the program for the past 18 years. Gehm, a trained mediator, has taught sociology and criminal justice for over 15 years at both the University of South Dakota as well as the University of Sioux Falls.  RESTORE, Inc. is a Sioux Falls-based nonprofit organization based on the concept of restorative justice – an approach to crime and conflict which emphasizes community involvement, voluntary participation, peaceful solutions and closure for those affected. Cases are referred by the courts, which must approve any resulting agreements. Cases may also be referred by the parties themselves, or by a third party, especially in non-criminal conflicts. RESTORE provides opportunities for the victims and perpetrators or other individuals in conflict to voluntarily meet in the presence of a trained volunteer mediator from the community.  During the meeting, victims are able to get questions answered, express emotions, and discuss appropriate reparations.  Similar programs have been in successful operation since 1986 in over 20 states and 150 different jurisdictions. The name change reflects the organization's expansion beyond victim-offender mediation to other areas of conflict resolution and restorative justice, including mediation in churches, schools, and the workplace. RESTORE will hold a training session for additional mediators in May. Individuals interested in the training may call Gehm at the program offices.

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