IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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From Justice to Welfare: The Case for Investment in Prevention and Early Intervention

23rd September 2010

From Justice to Welfare: The Case for Investment in Prevention and Early Intervention is report from a literature review commissioned by IPRT, IAYPIC and Barnardos to underpin the Shifting Focus conference and campaign. 

The report looks at evaluations of prevention and early intervention programmes in the US, UK and Ireland to assess the scale of the evidence in favour of making the shift, and reinvesting resources at an earlier stage in the life of an individual. The prioritisation of childhood and the recognition that smart investment in childhood can reap huge rewards in years to come are the concepts which drive the campaign.

Download the document here.

For those children who come into contact with the criminal justice system, it can too easily become the defining event in their young lives. The repercussions of contact with the criminal justice system extend beyond the individual, to societal-wide implications in terms of the structure of communities and the financial costs borne by the State.

We know that a criminal justice system based around punishment is an ineffective and costly way to deal with offending behaviour that is often rooted in identified social problems. Approaches to crime that are centred on prevention and early intervention seek instead to build protective factors, reducing the potential negative impacts on a child’s development of unfavourable external circumstances, thereby playing a role in reducing crime and criminality. The prioritisation of prevention and early intervention requires not only a shift in resources, but also a fundamental sea change in how society thinks about the concept of justice.

Ultimately, this report champions the possibility of reducing crime - and the costs of crime – through prevention and early intervention, and a redistribution of resources to tackle the root causes of crime.

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