Socially-distanced restorative practices day held at IPS College
31st August 2020

On 31st August 2020, Restorative Justice: Strategies for Change Irish Core Members collaborated with Irish Prison Service College (IPSC) tutors to organise a one-day workshop on restorative practices training. The day took place as part of a wider IPS project relating to its strategic commitments to explore and examine mechanisms for incorporating restorative justice principles throughout the service, and to include restorative principles in the training of staff, including all new recruits.

On the day, Dr. Ian Marder and Dr. Kieran O’Dwyer worked with ACO Angelena Murphy to facilitate a day of discussion around restorative practice and prisons. The group began the day by discussing the potential applications of restorative practices in Irish prisons and the work that had been done so far to engage stakeholders and scope the possibilities.

In the second session, Angelena and her colleague, Mark Delaney, presented the new training segment on restorative practices to the College’s tutors. This included a two-hour slideshow aiming to introduce Recruit Prison Officers to restorative practices, and two short, recently recorded videos that illustrated the differences between restorative and punitive responses to a conflict between a prison officer and a person in custody.

In the third session, the group considered what it would look like if the College itself adopted restorative practices internally. They explored the theoretical and empirical justifications and practical implications of adopting restorative practices within IPS College classrooms with a view to building a strong sense of community, enabling all persons to have a voice, and responding to conflict within the College.

The day also involved experiential learning, with the group participating in community building and discussion circles throughout. To avoid cross-contamination, in lieu of a talking piece that would be passed hand-to-hand, the group used a football which was passed between their feet.