Restorative Justice: Strategies for Change co-organises workshop with the Irish Prison Service College on restorative practices
24th January 2020

On Friday 24th January, Dr. Ian Marder (Irish Core Member, Restorative Justice: Strategies for Change) and ACO Angelena Murphy (Irish Prison Service College) organised and delivered a one-day workshop at the Irish Prison Service (IPS) College in Portlaoise. The approximately 25 attendees included IPS College tutors, the College Governor, David Clarke, and members of the new Restorative Justice: Strategies for Change (RJS4C) Cultural Change Working Group.

The workshop was a collaboration between the College and the Working Group, and explored how to include restorative justice principles and practices in staff and recruit training. The idea for the workshop emerged following the publication of the Irish Prison Service Strategic Plan, 2019-2022, in which the IPS commits to ‘Exploring and examining mechanisms for incorporating restorative justice principles throughout the Irish Prison Service’ and ‘Include restorative justice principles in the training and staff including all new recruits’ (p.18). This corresponds with the objectives of the RJS4C Irish national strategy, which states that the project members will “Work with practitioner training bodies and those who design practitioners’ inductions to include knowledge and training on restorative practices in their curricula” (p.7).

The day began with a welcome by Governor Clarke and Angelena Murphy, who leads on these elements of the IPS Strategy on behalf of the College. After an introductory circle process, Dr. Ian Marder, Dr. Kieran O’Dwyer and Tim Chapman gave presentations on the policy, research and international contexts regarding the development of restorative practices in the prison setting. 

This was followed by a workshop in which participants explored the needs and experiences of those with a stake in the implementation of restorative practices in Irish prisons, before the Working Group members who had previously implemented restorative practices in Irish prisons or trained prison officers in restorative practices, spoke about their experiences of doing so. The final workshop examined the Recruit Prison Officer curriculum to consider where and how restorative practices might be included, before participants developed an action plan for further collaboration between the College and the Working Group in relation to this work.

The workshop followed the successful organisation of a national symposium on developing restorative justice services, in collaboration with the University of Limerick Centre for Crime, Justice and Victim Studies in November 2019. To join over 300 others on the Stakeholder Group and mailing list for the RJS4C Ireland, please contact Dr. Ian Marder on