Crime cannot be viewed as a social problem in isolation from deeper social and economic issues. Understanding and responding to offending behaviour is a complex issue. There is no one ‘cause’ and no single solution; consequently one-dimensional approaches are unlikely to produce results. Currently, the Irish criminal justice system is spending increasing and wasteful amounts of scarce resources with poor results in reducing crime, when modest investments in under-resourced communities would have greater positive effects in reducing offending, as well as producing wider social benefits.
To this end, IPRT is campaigning for a shift in justice resources to prevention and early intervention, in other words: "Shifting Focus: from Criminal Justice to Social Justice."
The case for this shift is strong: as the exhaustive work of bodies like the Washington State Institute for Public Policy shows, there are endless benefits to be gained from taking more constructive approaches to both adult and youth offending. A focus on the underlying difficulties – mental health, addiction, educational disadvantage, poverty – is demonstrably more likely to be effective in addressing the dreadful human cost of crime.
Moreover, against the backdrop of enormous, increasing and endless expenditure on prisons and the criminal justice system as a whole, the case for shifting even a proportion of these resources to a social justice model is undeniable – especially when coupled with the ineffectiveness of the current approach. As research has shown, when specific programmes reduce offending, as well as lessening the social harm of crime, they also save money for the State.
We have been gathering the proof that prevention and early intervention works here.
See also our Shifting Focus campaign section.
15th July 2010
Restorative justice crucial to making a fresh start in tackling youth crime, according to a new report. ‘Time for a Fresh Start’ is the result of the first-ever independent inquiry into youth crime and antisocial behaviour.
23rd June 2010
A new report, published today, by the three independent inspectorates for prisons, probation and police, has revealed a "patchy and, at times, counterproductive" approach to tackling gang membership among children.
21st June 2010
In an article in the New Statesman, Rod Morgan, former chair of the Youth Justice Board, argues that criminalising young people is counterproductive and creates lifelong offenders. Instead, what is needed is a complete overhaul of youth justice.
23rd May 2010
The levels of funding for Children Detention Schools should be matched for prevention and early intervention schemes.
22nd April 2010
US research reveals more positive attitudes to juvenile rehabilitation than expected.
20th April 2010
An article in The Crime Report offers an overview of the current status of the justice reinvestment movement in the U.S.
15th April 2010
A new report released today shows alarming numbers of children leaving school without completing Leaving Certificate examinations.
31st March 2010
The complex needs of children in care - why investing in their future is investing in our own.
23rd March 2010
A new report by the cross-party Home Affairs Committee has called on the government to place more emphasis on early intervention when it comes to dealing with potential young offenders.
19th March 2010
The Guardian reports on a new initiative which will see private investors pay for a project to rehabilitate prisoners and receive a return on their money if reoffending rates drop.