Restorative Justice aims to transform the harm done by a crime, which is considered in this view a breach of relationships, into restored relationships among all parties. It is the nonviolent replacement for the present model of retributive justice, whose aim is punishment. The restorative justice model is based on the notion that crime harms not only the immediate victim or victims but the perpetrator(s), and in addition is a breach of justice against an entire community for the whole society; thus, the entire community is sometimes invited to partake in the process of restoring relationships, making the criminal justice process a step toward positive peace, healing the harm caused and moving forward into a new consciousness.
In the restorative justice model, which often draws upon indigenous systems of justice around the world, there is an attempt to heal the ruptured relationships, or even create them where they did not exist before the offense was committed. To this end, the offended parties are empowered to meet face to face with the offending parties when possible, usually in the presence of a mediator, in the belief that these encounters serve to transform the resentment, bitterness, anger, and hatred that are roused by the offense. Summing up the difference between the two models of criminal justice, Bo Lozoff, a prominent activist in the field, has stated that while our present system says to an offender, ‘Hey get out of here!’ restorative justice would say, ‘Hey, get back in here!’
Restorative justice rests on a belief in the potential for all human individuals to experience personal transformation, and is therefore a theory of justice compatible with the system of principled nonviolence. At present there is active interest in restorative justice among scholars, and a number of NGO-based projects like Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP), Victim-Offender Reconciliation Project (VORP), and a growing use of vipasanna meditation in prisons are slowly moving the idea forward.