Office of Victim Services  

Ohio Department of Youth Services
Office of Victim Services
4545 Fisher Road, Suite D
Columbus, OH 43228-8923

How the Office of Victim Services established: On July 1, 1998 a new approach towards victims of juvenile crime was initiated by the Ohio legislature. House Bill 1 created a Release Authority within the Department of Youth Services (DYS). The Release Authority is required to conduct reviews and make decisions regarding the continued confinement, release, or discharge of a youth under the custody of the Department of Youth Services.

Included in this law was the creation of the Office of Victim Services (OVS). The Office of Victim Services is an important component of the Release Authority. The Office is responsible for being an effective, supportive, and informative resource for victims.

Services available for victims of juvenile crimes with an offender committed to DYS: The Office of Victim Services within the Department of Youth Services will provide an initial letter with:

  • Notification of the specific rights of victims of juvenile under Ohio law, including the right to designate a victim representative.
  • A Victim Impact Statement to be completed by the victim or designated representative to identify the impact of the crime upon the victim;
  • A Victim Notification Form (VNF), which may be completed by the victim and returned to OVS to secure the following provisions and considerations:
  • Information, referral services and advocacy on behalf of the victims throughout the juvenile corrections process;
  • An opportunity to meet in person, or to speak by telephone with a representative of the Release Authority;
  • Information regarding the status of a youth committed to DYS institution or under parole supervision;
  • Notification of upcoming reviews, releases, discharges, and revocation decisions;
  • Information regarding policies and procedures of the Department of Youth Services, including the operation of the Release Authority and the Office of Victim Services;
  • Referrals to appropriate federal, state, or local community resources, including victim service agencies;
  • Notification of a letter of apology available to the victim, if such a letter was written by the youthful offender;
  • Opportunity to meet with the offender, if requested by the victim, to participate in a victim offender mediation process; and,
  • Opportunity for the victim of crime to participate in a victim impact panel and to speak directly to incarcerated youth regarding the impact the crime had on the victim.

Frequently Asked Questions
How does the Office of Victim Services ensure privacy?
Offenders do not have access to the name, address or other personal information about his or her victim. Offenders are not present if a victim selects to express his or her views verbally to a member of the Release Authority while attending a review or discharge hearing. In addition, if a victim does not wish to be personally involved in the process, but desires to have his or her position taken into consideration, a family member or other interested party may be designated to act on behalf of the victim.
As a crime victim, how can I secure the services offered by the Office of Victim Services?
When a youth is committed to the Department of Youth Services, the local juvenile court committing the youth provides the Office of Victim Services with the name and address of the victim. The Office of Victim Services sends an initial letter, victim notification form, victim impact statement, and informational brochures to the identified victim(s). When the victim completes and returns the Victim Notification Form (VNF), the victim becomes a registered victim with the Office of Victim Services. A registered victim will be assigned a PIN, a personal identification number, allowing OVS to verify the identity of a registered victim calling to discuss any concerns. In addition, the victim upon returning the VNF, ensures that future notifications regarding the status, of the youthful offender will be forthcoming.
Can the crime victim let the Release Authority know how they feel about the release or discharge of the youthful offender?
Yes. A registered victim may send information to the Office of Victim Services at any time prior to a review or hearing. Information may be shared through the victim impact statement form which accompanies the notices sent to registered victims. The victim may also express their concerns through the use of video and audio tape, or by requesting to meet face-to-face with a Release Authority member.
What is a Victim Impact Statement?
A Victim Impact Statement includes a summary of the circumstances of the criminal offense committed against the victim. It may provide information regarding: financial loss relating to restitution, including property loss, lost wages, cost of services required due to the crime (e.g., medical, dental, optical, surgical); any physical or psychological problems resulting from the crime; and, any information that the victim feels the Release Authority should know when considering the impact of the crime.
What is the importance of a Victim Impact Statement?
A Victim Impact Statement reflects the consequences of the crime that the victim has encountered and personalizes the crime, allowing others to see that the crime impacted a human being, and is not just another nameless and faceless statistic. It gives the victim an opportunity to detail the circumstances and results of the crime, sharing information, pictures, medical records, itemized bills, and any other pertinent information. This process empowers the victim through his or her participation in the court, juvenile corrections, and/or probation or parole process.
What is V.I.N.E.?
Victim Information & Notification Everyday (V.I.N.E.) is a free, anonymous, computer-based service that provides information and notification to victims of crime. V.I.N.E. will provide offender status information including any upcoming hearings or court events. You may also register for automated telephone notification when an offender has a change in status throughout the juvenile justice process. It is important to note that you may register to receive information and notification from both V.I.N.E. and the Office of Victim Services.
Is it possible for survivor of crime to meet face-to-face with his or her offender?
The process is called Victim Offender Mediation. A registered victim with the Office of Victim Services must submit a written request to the Office requesting an opportunity to meet with the offender. The actual mediation process is contingent on numerous factors, including the written request of the victim, the stated willingness of the offender to participate, and the completion of an application by both parties.
What is a Victim Impact Panel, and as a survivor of crime interested in making offenders more aware of the impact of their criminal behavior, how can I become involved?
Victim Impact Panels are comprised of survivors of crime who speak about the circumstances of their crime directly to youthful offenders. The Office of Victims Services is committed to representing the best interests of crime victims. Fortunately, this means that the Office of Victim Services must also be very aware of the situation of the youth committed to the Department of Youth Services. It is because of this unique situation, working on behalf of victims of crime, and attempting to hold youth accountable for their crimes, that initiated utilizing victim impact panels with youth incarcerated in DYS institutions. Survivors of crime interested in becoming a victim impact panelist are encouraged to contact the Office of Victim Services to obtain an application.