Some have suggested that restorative justice might be better described in terms of values rather than through definitions or principles. A number of values have been proposed and one way of organizing them would be to think in terms of normative values, which describe the world as it should be, and operational values, which guide how we achieve those.

The first normative value is a peaceful social life. Peace means more than the absence of open conflict. It includes concepts of harmony, contentment, security, and wellbeing that exist in a community at peace with itself and with its members. When conflict occurs, it is addressed in such a way that peaceful social life is restored and strengthened. Two operational values help achieve peaceful social life. One is resolution, meaning the people are cared for and the issues surrounding conflict and its aftermath are addressed as completely as possible. The second is protection, which means that the physical and emotional safety of affected parties is a primary consideration.

The second normative value is respect. All people are treated as worthy of consideration, recognition, care and attention simply because they are people. The operational values that encourage respect are inclusion and empowerment. The parties are invited to directly shape and engage in restorative processes and are equipped to effectively influence and participate in the response to the offence.

The third normative values is solidarity. This refers to the feeling of agreement, support, and connectedness among members of a group or community. It grows out of their shared interests, purposes, sympathies, and responsibilities. Three operational values that build solidarity are encounter (parties are invited, but not compelled, to participate in making decisions about how to respond to the offence), assistance (parties are helped to become contributing members of their communities in the aftermath of the offence), and moral education (community standards are reinforced as the values and norms of the parties, their communities, and their societies).

The final normative value is active reponsibility. This can be contrasted with passive responsibility, which means being held accountable by others. Active responsibility arises from within a person; passive responsibility is imposed from outside the person. Two operational values contribute to development of active responsibility. One is collaboration, in which the parties are invited to find solutions through mutual, consensual decision-making. The second is making amends, which means that those responsible for the harm caused by the offence are also responsible for taking steps to repair it.