April update – Youth Justice Strategy Published; Spotlight on Restorative Practices
Restorative justice in the new Youth Justice Strategy (2021-2027)
Restorative justice features prominently in the new Youth Justice Strategy. At its launch, Prof. Sean Redmond commented that the strategy represented a reboot for restorative youth justice, while Chief Superintendent Colette Quinn spoke to its role in youth diversion. The strategy refers to restorative justice under its ‘guiding principles’, noting that ‘victims of crime, including child victims of crime, and those who have themselves become criminalised, should have an opportunity to have their voices heard, and, where appropriate, to take part in restorative processes’ (p.5), and that restorative practitioners can help ‘support children and young people who are vulnerable to involvement in offending behaviour’ (p.8).
RJ also appears under objectives around prevention and early intervention (p.21), diversion (p.23 & p.24) and pre- and post-sentence options (p.31), while a section on family conferencing (p.34) proposes legislation, regulation or guidance to increase its use, and reforms to Garda Youth Diversion Projects will incorporate RP training (p.42). Finally, Research Documents published alongside the strategy include a case study of YPAR in Dublin which notes its role in the NEIC RP initiative, an overview of international standards in youth justice which identifies RJ as a key goal, and a review of progress from the 2014-2018 youth justice action plan. This states (p.24) that ‘while progress has clearly been made in promoting restorative practices in some areas, challenges and inconsistencies in implementation still need to be addressed’ and recommends (p.32) ‘extend[ing] the use of restorative approaches and family conferencing by An Garda Síochána and the Probation Service and evaluate the implementation of these practices.’
Separately, restorative youth justice was discussed on the Moncrieff show on Newstalk, and the Examiner notes the steep decline in restorative youth cautions in recent years. We hope to work with stakeholders across government and the criminal justice system to support the development and evaluation of restorative practices and restorative justice in youth justice in the coming years.
RJS4C website – spotlight on restorative practice case studies and new research summaries
Previous emails highlighted case studies of restorative justice delivered by NGOs, Probation and An Garda Síochána. This month, we are highlighting our case studies that reflect the wider use of restorative practices in the criminal justice context. Several of these involve Gardaí, including projects using circles to build relationships between Gardaí and Travellers, or Gardaí and people in Direct Provision. Gardaí also used circles to support community healing after a gas explosion and the death of a young person on the road. A community-based organisation has written about its use of circles to resolve conflict among staff and clients, while in prisons, previous work in the Dóchas and Wheatfield was described by those involved, and AVP outlines their restorative prison programme.
The website also feature three new summaries of fascinating research, written by interns Kate, Grace and Triona. These posts summarise research on restorative justice and sexual violence, why restorative justice satisfies victims, and how restorative justice meets victims’ justice needs.
Please continue to get in touch if you would like to contribute to the website, especially if you think you can assist our efforts to capture the work of individual practitioners and to develop case studies from participants’ perspectives. We would also love to hear from people who want to write case studies, author blogs, or request that their publications on restorative justice in Ireland be added to our stakeholder publications page.
Other events and information of interest
The European Forum for Restorative Justice has a number of upcoming events and opportunities to get involved. Events include a webinar on police, community and youth relationships, a webinar on restorative responses to the harms of COVID-19, and its annual conference, which will be online. Opportunities to participate include with its new working group on RJ and institutions and its newsletter’s editorial committee.
You may also be interested in:
- This interview with Prof. Claudia Mazzucato (RJS4C Core Member for Italy) about a restorative response to the harms of COVID-19.
- This forthcoming event on restorative justice in the criminal courts, learning from Scotland and Belgium.
- This forthcoming RJ and RP skills course, hosted (online) by the University of Strathclyde.
- This summary of a recent evaluation of Circles of Support and Accountability from the UK.
- The new strategic plan (2021-2023) from Victim Support at Court.
- This recent Irish case (with Seamus Darby), which doesn’t seem to have involved a formal RJ process, but did involve apologies and reparation.
- A couple of interesting restorative justice cases in the US: anti-Asian hate crime in Oregon; and damage caused during civil unrest in Philadelphia.
- This upcoming Introductory Training in Implementation Sciences, which could be very useful for those supporting change the criminal justice arena.
- The Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality has recommended ‘the appointment of a Victims/Survivors Commissioner as an independent advocate and voice for victims/survivors’.