When Marin Hoplamazian arrived at the William & Mary Law School in 2006, she wasn't 100 percent sure she wanted to be a practicing lawyer. Today those doubts have been swept away and she's received a scholarship from the Virginia Community Criminal Justice Association to pursue an independent research project.
Through her research, Hoplamazian said she will look at the current state of victim-offender mediation (VOM) programs in the state of Virginia, the future of these programs and recommendations for ways they could be strengthened.
VOM's are restorative justice programs that actively involve the victim in the justice process. Many times this process includes a meeting between the victim and the offender. Hoplamazian said the programs "can sometimes make the offender feel remorse and responsibility" for their crimes.
Thirty-five years ago there weren't any of these programs operating in the country. Today, she said, there are more than 500. "These programs are doing great things in their communities," Hoplamazian added.
To complete the project, Hoplamazian is preparing a survey for programs across the state. She plans to combine the survey data with information she obtains from in-person interviews.
"It's still an emerging field, it's very interesting - ripe for study," she said.
Hoplamazian received the $2,500, one-year scholarship prior to the start of the current semester. She will present her completed report to the VCCJA in the spring.
"I don't think I could afford to spend the time on this research without the scholarship," she said. "I'm grateful to the VCCJA for this opportunity to explore programs that I find so interesting and that are doing such great things."
VCCJA is a non-profit organization with the mission of enhancing public safety through the development and expansion of Core Public Safety Services.
Hoplamazian is scheduled to graduate in May 2009. While she's not sure she will work with VOM programs or even pursue criminal law, she knows practicing law is in her future. Her hope is to return to her home state of Michigan after graduation and eventually open her own firm that caters to Arabic speaking clientele or businesses.
"My experience at William & Mary has been amazing," Hoplamazian reflected. "I feel like I really found my niche."