Source: (1991) From Criminology as Peacemaking, 1991, pp. 194-206, Harold E. Pepinsky, Richard Quinney, eds. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Mediation has emerged in recent years as an attractive, kinder and gentler, dispute processing alternative to an adversarial orientation. Criminal cases, when mediated, usually are referred to dispute processing forums using mediation outside of the courts. Generally, these programs can be differentiated primarily with respect to their relationship to the criminal justice system, i.e., those that are directly connected with local court systems, those that are not, and those that are a combination of the two. Mediation, a relatively short-term participatory intervention process, enables disputing parties to resolve their differences with the assistance of a third party, a mediator, in an informal, face-to-face private and confidential setting. Benefits of using mediation include the reduction of court backlogs, empowerment of individuals and neighborhoods, and the opportunity for more appropriate forums than provided by the traditional legal adversarial system. Four major areas of concern as they apply to the mediation of criminal matters are addressed: getting disputants to the table, the process itself, the mediators, and implications of mediation for the criminal justice system.