New Department of Justice Restorative Justice Policy Paper, Irish Prison Service case studies – Summer 2023 update
14th August 2023

Summer 2023 update – New Department of Justice Restorative Justice Policy Paper, Irish Prison Service case studies

Department of Justice publishes restorative justice policy paper

The new policy aims ‘to ensure that safe, high-quality restorative justice is accessible to all persons who could benefit from participation’ and commits to ‘engagement with the Probation Service and the provision of dedicated funding [to] provide significant ongoing support for the provision of restorative justice at all stages of the criminal justice system, and help expand such services into all geographical areas of the State’. It also notes a proposal to include a new Head providing for restorative justice in forthcoming community sanctions legislation.

You can read an analysis of the policy here, outlining its strengths, what we can learn from its text and from the Probation Service’s response, and the gaps that will likely remain.

New case studies published on restorative practices in the Irish Prison Service

We are grateful to colleagues from the Irish Prison Service and South East Technological University (SETU) for producing two excellent case studies. The first outlines how SETU trains Recruit Prison Officers in restorative practices and uses restorative practices within their teaching. The second is an example of a proactive circle process between prison managers and people with life sentences to discuss reintegration activities following COVID-19.

Other items of possible interest

  • An evaluation of Youth Diversion Projects found that around 70% use RP and 25% intend to do so (p.59), and around 70% of youth justice workers report using ‘restorative justice interventions’ at least sometimes (p.100).
  • A recent study examined the use of restorative practices to build relationships between Gardaí and young Black adults in Blanchardstown. See a summary of the findings here and coverage in the Independent here.
  • You can find a short video describing a similar dialogue project led by CAN, involving youth workers, Gardaí and young people in NEIC Dublin, here.
  • Also in the NEIC, Belvedere Youth Club used restorative practices to help young people reflect on immigration and asylum – you can find coverage of this work in the Irish Times here.
  • The Irish Penal Reform Trust welcomed the focus on restorative justice in the Penal Policy Review – you can find their latest report on the penal system here.
  • We have organised an online workshop, in collaboration with the Restorative Justice Pedagogy Network, on communicating restorative justice to the public and the question of ‘framing’ – sign up here.
  • The Guardian has a feature article discussing the potential of restorative justice with murder cases – check it out here.
  • The Traveller Mediation Service expanded its peer mediation work in prisons to new institutions in 2022. Find more information here and a case study of their work in Castlerea here.
  • Oberstown Children Detention Campus piloted a new ‘restorative thinking’ programme in 2022 – see p. 24 in their annual report here.