Traditionally, mediation has been limited to civil lawsuits — commercial, family and divorce disputes.  It has rarely been used in the criminal context (beyond misdemeanors).  Now the American Bar Association is studying the possibility of using it in the criminal realm.  This is actually a form of restorative justice.  The accused meets with their victim (if both sides are willing).  For the accused, they can now see their crime was not victimless.  In fact, the accused gets to hear exactly how the victim was impacted.  On the other side, the victims may gain understanding as to why the accused committed the crime.

The result is usually an admission of the crime, some level of forgiveness and understanding and some sort of negotiated penalty for the accused.  Restorative justice is an attempt to break the cycle of crime and not just incarcerate someone with limited impact.

It should be interesting to see how this may unfold.