Penal policy review, blog on data collection, tribute to Dr. Vicky Conway – September 2022 update
17th October 2022

September update – Penal Policy Review launched, blog on data collection published, tribute to Dr. Vicky Conway


Restorative justice in the Review of Policy Options for Prison and Penal Reform 2022-2024

In August, the Minister for Justice announced the approval of the Penal Policy Review. This includes restorative justice as one of 21 actions, with other progressive goals including the diversion of young adults, increasing the use of community sentences and incorporating the principle of prison as a last resort into law. It reiterates the Department’s restorative justice plans: to publish policy proposals and agree an implementation plan in Q3 2022.

We have published an analysis of the restorative justice actions in this and other strategies published in 2022. You can read this analysis here.

New blog: Dr. Kieran O’Dwyer on data collection by restorative justice providers

Since our website launched, Kieran led two mapping exercises, collecting data on restorative justice in Ireland from 2019 and 2020. Now, Kieran has written about his experience of collating, organising and interpreting these datasets.

You can read Kieran’s blog here. If you would like to write a piece on restorative justice or restorative practices in Ireland for our website, please let us know!

A tribute to Dr. Vicky Conway

Like so many, we were saddened by the death of Dr. Vicky Conway this summer. This month, I found that her submission on the General Scheme of the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill advocated for RJ in response to complaints against the police. Vicky said (p. 394): ‘[Informal resolution] has been trialled very effectively by GSOC and is a development that should not be lost. Often complainants want to be believed, and want an apology and so informal resolution can be very effective. We should [not] be forcing all cases into an adversarial process where this can be avoided. Restorative justice can be used very effectively.’

I remember speaking to Vicky about this and sending her a case study in which a Garda participates in a restorative conference after harming a Traveller family by making ‘hurtful and threatening comments’ in a local WhatsApp group. Many episodes in Vicky’s excellent podcast series feature themes relating to restorative justice. Her advocacy in relation to criminal justice reform and research, and on behalf of marginalised communities, will be sorely missed.

Ireland hosts international conference on communicating restorative justice to the public

In August, Maynooth University hosted 28 academics from 16 countries for the Summer Institute in Restorative Justice and Design Innovation. There, the participants undertook a three-day design process to develop and prototype new ideas for how to communicate restorative justice to the public. You can find a short review of the Summer Institute here.

Other items of interest

You and others you know may be interested in the following items:

–          An article in the Irish Examiner this month had ‘restorative justice’ in the title (although it seemed to speak mostly about punitive approaches) – see here.

–          The British NGO Why Me? is hosting an online event (September 29) on the Economic Evaluation of Restorative Justice – to register and for more information, see here.

–          A draft EU Directive on combatting violence against women and domestic violence requires that RJ professionals are trained ‘to identify, prevent and address instances of violence against women or domestic violence and to treat victims in a trauma-, gender- and child-sensitive manner’ – see Article 37 (p.52) here.

–          Jacob Dunne, whose book on his experience of RJ I recently circulated, was interviewed on the podcast Fear or Favour – listen on Spotify here (or wherever you get your podcasts!).

–          The Crime Victims Helpline is seeking volunteers and the European Forum for Restorative Justice has launched an internship – you may wish to circulate these among students and clients!