IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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IPRT welcomes publication of Report on Restorative Justice

17th December 2009

IPRT welcomes the publication of the Final Report from the National Commission on Restorative Justice, and calls for its recommendations to be fully implemented within the specified time.

Restorative justice is a victim and community oriented approach which requires the perpetrator to face up to the harm he or she has caused and repair or make good the damage done. The victim is placed at the centre of the process.

The report describes Restorative Justice as an "invaluable cost effective" option for the criminal justice system, citing a pilot project cost of €3,250 per adult, compared with €97,700 annually for a prisoner in detention. The report suggests that annual savings of up to €8.3 million can be made through use of Restorative Justice.

Restorative Justice should be applied in respect of persons before the District and Circuit Criminal Courts on criminal charges and target cases of up to three years imprisonment, according to the report, which states: "It will provide a real prospect of diverting some offenders from a custodial sentence as well as deflecting them from committing further serious criminal acts."

Speaking on the publication of the Report, IPRT’s Executive Director Liam Herrick said:

“We very much welcome and support the Commission’s Report and its recommendations. IPRT sees restorative justice process as one of the ways by which the principle of the use of imprisonment as a last resort can be progressed in Ireland. The report shows clearly that restorative approach provides an opportunity for the victims and communities to be involved in the administration of justice, and brings the process closer to the people directly affected by crimes. It also makes a sound financial sense, particularly in relation to the overall cost of restorative programmes in comparison to prison sentences or even community service. Crucially restorative justice may also involve financial reparations by offenders that can be offered to victims of crime.”

“International evidence points to the fact that restorative principles are of particular importance in the treatment of women offenders and dealing with young people in the criminal justice system, but IPRT believes that the existing schemes in Ireland prove that restorative approaches work with very positive results with the majority of offenders, regardless of gender or age. We would like to congratulate the Commission on their work and hope that its recommendations will be fully implemented within the specified time.”

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