Source: (1996) Paper presented at the American Society of Criminology Conference, Annual Meeting, Chicago, November 20-23, 1996.This essay argues that victim offender mediation is both a core practice and an essential process in any restorative justice system. However, mediation programs and practices vary greatly in quality and integrity of implementation. "Fast food mediation" is ultimately driven by the priorities of a retributive system, whereas more restorative mediation necessarily challenges the performance outcomes of retributive justice. Issues in moving mediation closer to the restorative end of the continuum is discussed. Strategies for overcoming the marginalization of mediation by expanding the process both to different parts of the system and to more serious and chronic offenders is considered.