In traditional criminal justice, fairness means that the prescribed procedures to be followed in a prosecution have been adhered to. Fairness is measured by the extent to which procedures were followed, not be whether they achieved a result that satisfies the community, victim or offender.
Participants in restorative processes appear to have significantly different conceptions of fairness than those of the traditional system when it comes to achieving justice for the parties. Studies show that victims and offenders are significantly more likely to be satisfied with participation in a mediation programme, and to experience a greater sense of fairness, than with participation in traditional processes. Victims ranked the following factors as the most significantly related to their post-mediation understanding of fairness:
- providing help for the offender;
- paying back the victim for losses; and
- receiving an apology from the offender.
While offenders ranked the following factors as the most significantly related to their post-mediation understanding of fairness:
- paying back the victim for losses;
- personally "making things right"; and
- offering an apology to the victim.