implementing your
victim impact panel

abstract representation of speaker presenting to an audience
You will need about one volunteer for every 30 attendees.

pre-panel logistics

The coordinator will assure the reservation of appropriate space, chairs for attendees, table and chairs for the panel, tables for sign-in and fee collection, sound equipment, and visual aids and equipment if slides or Power Point presentations are shown. This may include acquiring an audio-visual technician. The coordinator will also assure the availability and participation of a panel Facilitator.

The coordinator will ensure and confirm the participation of each panel speaker. Written notice of the time (arrive 30 minutes before the panel presentation), place (including map), and parking vouchers or coins is encouraged.

The coordinator will recruit the appropriate number of volunteers needed to sign in attendees, collect fees, and distribute pre and post-tests (if used), and evaluations. One volunteer for every thirty attendees is recommended. Generally, panel speakers are not used for sign-in and other administrative tasks when they are also speaking.

The coordinator will prepare the sign-in sheets, preferably with typed names and identifying information, i.e., date-of-birth, offense number, etc., for all assigned offenders. The coordinator will ensure that no offenders of panel speakers will be in the audience.

Why be courteous to impaired driving offenders?

Courtesy to attendees is an important panel principle. Learning and subsequent behavior change cannot take place in a hostile or disrespectful environment. Panels are intended to teach offenders about respect for self and others as manifested by sober driving. Make sure that EVERYONE is treated politely and that reasonable requests are met. Start and end the panel on time and make certain that the panel format complies with the information the offender was given at the time of sentencing.

The coordinator will copy and take to the site all paperwork, including directional signs, sign-in sheets, receipt books, proof of attendance certificates, pre and post-tests, and evaluation forms. If your panel includes a question and answer period after the panel presentation, you may require offenders to submit their questions in writing in order to assure that questions are appropriate and respectful. If so, have a supply of blank sheets for writing questions. Have plenty of sharpened pencils and ink pens. If attendees can pay the panel fee in cash, make certain there is ample change, cash boxes, and a bank deposit bag. Appendix Nine contains a supplies checklist that can be used by the panel coordinator.

The coordinator will assure that at least two individuals sign in and collect fees for each line of offenders. MADD recommends that probation department personnel handle this task. Regardless, each offender is greeted courteously and provided with a receipt. Save time by pre-signing a quantity of receipts leaving room to fill in the attendee's name.

Donation boxes may be placed on sign-in tables if fees are not required.

The coordinator will ensure that at least two individuals count the fees and return the money to a person designated by the Steering Committee or task force to recount the money and make the deposit.

The panel facilitator will arrive early and greet the panel speakers. The panel facilitator and panelists will go to an area away from the audience to await the beginning of the program and to agree on the order of presentation. It is suggested that the most powerful presentations be made first and last, with newer speakers in between.

The facilitator will assure that sound and visual systems are on and operational before the program begins. Tissues and water should be placed on the panel table.

Before the panel program begins, the coordinator will remind the audience that everyone needs to have signed in to get credit for attending. Once the panel begins, the coordinator will post a sign on the door indicating that no late arrivals will be admitted. If volunteers are not available outside of the panel room, the sign should include instructions for rescheduling. The coordinator or security officer will assure that the doors remain closed during the program.


Q & A can diminish the potential impact of speakers' stories. Moving the tone of the program from "heart" to "head" may reduce the emotional impact of the personal stories.

The facilitator will start the program precisely on time by greeting the audience. If pre and post tests are utilized, ask the volunteers to distribute the pre-test and pencils. Allow time for the pre-test, which should not take more than about five minutes. Ask the volunteers to collect the tests only. Appendix Ten contains samples of pre and post-tests and panel evaluations.

The facilitator will introduce all the panel members at the beginning of the session to save time and to avoid disruption in the flow of victim stories. Some victims may wish to be introduced only by their first name. Speakers should speak about 10 minutes each, and no more than 15 minutes. Signal each speaker when three minutes remain, then again when one minute remains. Panelists speak one after the other in the order previously determined.

After every panelist has spoken, the facilitator may field questions from the audience if all panel members approve of this practice before the program begins. The facilitator can determine the amount of time for questions based on the conclusion of the final speaker and the time required for post-tests and evaluations. The simplest procedure is to allow only written questions, which are collected and screened before they are handed to the panel facilitator. This requires distributing the question sheets and pencils before the program begins. Panels addressing small groups may be more comfortable with a less formal procedure, but care must be taken to assure that questions are appropriate and respectful.

Question and answer sessions can be a useful component to the panel program as they give audience members an opportunity to interact with panelists in a meaningful way. On the other hand, Q & A after personal stories moves the program from "feeling" to "thinking" (emotional to cognitive) and your panel program will end on a "thinking" note rather than on the emotional impact. Carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of Q & A before adding it to your panel program.

Under no circumstances should the panel program take more than two hours!

After all panelists have spoken, and the question and answer period conducted, the panel facilitator will close the program by thanking the panelists, thanking the attendees, and issuing instructions regarding the evaluations and post-tests. (Appendix Ten) If certificates of attendance are provided, they are generally picked up as attendees leave. Appendix Seven contains sample certificates of attendance. The facilitator will ask volunteers to distribute evaluations and/or post-tests. Unwillingness of offenders to comply with tests and evaluations may be construed as a "no show." The forms and pencils should be collected by volunteers at the door.

post-panel logistics

Some audience members will want an opportunity to visit with panelists informally after the program. Panelists can choose to remain in the room at the program's conclusion or can return to the private waiting area until the audience has left.

Many panels incorporate a debriefing opportunity for audience members, usually facilitated by someone from the probation department. The point of a panel is to engage people on an emotional level and care should be taken to insure that audience members are not left without resources if listening to the panel has triggered something for them. Additionally, it is not desirable for audience members to get in their cars and drive if they have become highly emotional or distraught.

Under no circumstances should the entire program, from sign-in through completion of the evaluation, require more than two hours.

It is important to provide panel speakers with a debriefing opportunity after the panel program. The debriefing can take place on-site or at another location. Evening panels generally hold their debriefing at a nearby restaurant in order that panelists may have something to eat.

The facilitator (or coordinator) will lead the debriefing, which can be as simple as asking each panelist to talk about their reaction to participation. It may also include distribution of the evaluations for them to read.

Don't forget about the debriefing!

MADD has established a policy of reimbursing up to $10 (including tip) of a meal or snack cost for those who wish to debrief at a nearby restaurant. Reimbursement is allowed only for those directly involved, such as panel members, the facilitator, and the coordinator. It does not include a panelist's family members or other volunteers who assist with the program. MADD financial policies also allow these costs to be taken immediately from the fees collected from the panel in order to avoid panelists having to pay for their meals then wait for reimbursements.

The coordinator should contact each panelist within a few days to see if their reactions have changed and to inquire if they wish to speak again, and, if so, when they are available.


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