Source: (1998) In, Beata Czarnecka-Dzialuk and Dobroncha Wojcik, eds., Juvenile Offender-Victim Mediation. Warszawa: Oficyna Naukowa. Pp. 36-50.

In answering the question 'What is restorative justice?', Bernd-Dieter Meier notes that for many commentators it has been easier to say what it is not -- it is not retributive justice -- than to say what it is. Tony Marshall, however, has attempted a succinct definition of restorative justice oriented around a process whereby all stakeholders in a problem come together to resolve it collectively. Meier commends Marshall's emphasis on process and collective action, yet also finds the definition deficient in not clarifying sufficiently how this process is distinct from traditional, punitive justice. Hence, Meier augments Marshall's definition of restorative justice by emphasizing two further elements: (1) voluntary action by the offender to disassociate himself or herself from the offending behavior, instead of infliction of punishment on the offender by another party (the court); and (2) the centrality of the victim as a fully acknowledged partner in the response to the offending behavior. This second element is commonly connected with mediation. All of this leads to discussion of the theory of restorative justice, criminological reflections on the restorative justice, and remarks on the situation of restorative justice in Germany.