Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


Victim offender communication in felony cases: An archival analysis of Ohio's Office of Victim Services dialogue program

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Lynda D. Dixon (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Srinivas R. Melkote (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Stephen M. Croucher (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Colleen J. Mandell (Committee Member)


In this dissertation, I studied victim offender dialogue files archived by Ohio's Office of Victim Services (OVS). The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction runs OVS. The Office of Victim Services has processed 349 individual dialogue cases. The OVS director was interested in knowing why only one in four initiated dialogue files complete actual face-to-face dialogue. I conducted an archived data analysis on a sample (N = 212) of OVS completed and will-not-proceed files. Victim offender dialogue programs are typically based on restorative justice theory and, compared to traditional criminal justice processes, have been shown to increase victim and offender satisfaction, decrease offender recidivism, and increase rates of restitution. I posited two hypotheses regarding offender race and the effect of time on dialogue completion. Chi square and Fisher's exact tests were conducted and indicate that neither offender race nor the passage of time had a significant effect on dialogue completion rates. However, a victim's relationships to the offender, victim sex, and the dialogue file initiator were each found to significantly impact dialogue completion rates. I also include descriptive analyses of victim motivations for seeking dialogue. This research has implications regarding relational communication, conflict mediation, and restorative justice theory. Finally, I offer several suggestions regarding OVS practices as well as other uses of restorative dialogue in the contexts of severe crime and felonies.