IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

Join Donate

Get News Updates:

Conference 2010

Shifting Focus: From Criminal Justice to Social Justice

Reinvesting in Better and Safer Communities

1-day Conference on Thurs 23rd Sept 2010 in Dublin, hosted by:

Shifting Focus

The goal of any criminal justice system should be to make society safer for all. However, the justice system in Ireland has long emphasised punishment over prevention – an emphasis which has been damaging to Irish society.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has long argued that crime cannot be viewed as a social problem in isolation from deeper social and economic issues. Our system of justice is spending increasing and wasteful amounts of scarce resources with poor results in reducing crime. At the same time, modest investments in under-resourced communities would have greater positive effects in reducing offending, as well as producing wider social benefits.

At a time of a deepening economic and social crisis, we want to propose a simple yet proven idea - that a shift in resources from criminal justice to social justice makes social and economic sense.

Informed by a common commitment to human rights and social justice, IPRT has come together with Barnardos and the Irish Association of Young People in Care to analyse how this idea can be put in practice. 

To this end, on Thursday 23rd September 2010 we will host a 1-day conference to consider how Ireland might begin to refocus our approach to crime and social policy in line with these principles.

The conference will hear from leading Irish and international speakers, who will address the social and economic dimensions of crime, and explore the theory and practice of how interventions can be designed to achieve effective results.

The three key questions which the conference will address are:

  • How can justice policy be more integrated in wider social policy?
  • What do service providers need to do to persuade policy-makers to invest in long-term prevention and intervention strategies?
  • How can political commitment to long-term prevention strategies be achieved?

Speakers confirmed include Prof Lesley McAra of Edinburgh University, Prof Pat Dolan of NUI Galway, Prof Nick Frost of Leeds Metropolitan University, and Dr Paul O’Mahony of Trinity College, Dublin. Organisations currently designing and delivering effective interventions in the community will also present at the Conference, and a panel of leading politicians will explore how academic knowledge about what works in building stronger communities can be translated into meaningful political action.

For more details on the conference, please click here.

For more background information on the concept of prevention and early intervention, please click here.