victim's sobering impact

When Paul Woodlief's Victim Impact graduates asked for more, she delivered.  Woodlief, Lead Teacher at Kershaw Correctional Institution, accepted her students' challenge in continuing their Impact of Crime training by finding two generous speakers, willing to share their personal journeys through victimization.

The Impact of Crime graduates sat captivated by stories of loss, pain and ultimate forgiveness.  The speakers illustrated their victimization through family pictures and detailed accounts of their experiences.  However, it was not the graphic expose, nor the emotional telling of their personal stories that mesmerized those in attendance.  It was each individual's realization that these two victims were sharing these painful memories in hopes that they could make a difference in some else's life. 

"If I cannot give back to the people who helped me, I can give to other people," was the reasoning behind one speaker's willingness to take her place on the victim impact panel.  Although this speaker had lost two of her children, her selfless discussion of grief and redemption have helped her resolve her own feelings of loss and anger. After the victims recounted their victimization, they fielded questions from the participants.  Rather than question the guests, many inmates showed their admiration by commenting on the courage and strength it took for the victims to talk about their experiences.   group of victims share experiences Two victims join Barbara Grissom, Director of the Division of Victim Services (left) and Paul Woodlief, lead teacher at Kershaw (on right), to share their experiences.
In presenting their stories to this type of audience, the victims have been able to display their ability to redirect negative situations into positive ones.  For these recent graduates, witnessing the first hand accounts and far-reaching effects of victimization created a lasting and powerful impression.  It is an impression that will continue to develop the inmate's understanding of the true impact crime has on victims, which is more than just a theory they learned in the classroom.  As one guest speaker suggested, "Those who influence you can be repaid by doing positive things because, positive things have been done to you."

For Woodlief's Impact of Crime graduates, quarterly meetings are planned, to both reinforce and continue their training.  Overall, the experience of this special victim impact panel was indeed a positive one and will ultimately benefit all the participants on their road to rehabilitation.

By Samantha Hauptman
Impact of Crime Coordinator