Purpose This essay conducts a critical evaluation of the transformative nature of restorative justice for offenders when used within traditional criminal justice processes. The potentiality of transformation extending from restorative practices is then sought within the system of England and Wales. The purpose of this essay is to highlight the potential of a reparative justice philosophy by evidencing where the system of England and Wales is failing. Approach/Originality Findings are sought by review of academic literature and research evidence. The unique approach taken by this essay adds value to the field of restorative justice research. The author assesses the transformative nature of restorative justice for offenders by identifying indicators of desistance resulting from or within the practice. These indicators of desistance are evidence of a redemption narrative within participants, and signals of reintegrative shaming within the practice. Whilst restorative justice is rightfully victim-centred, it is unnecessary to neglect the potentiality of desistance from crime. Findings It is discovered that whilst restorative justice is transformative for all parties, the co-option of the process into the justice system of England and Wales stunts such success. There is, however, hope for system philosophy development, or the instigation of societal change by restorative justice.