Restorative Justice in a world of inequality and injustice
Community Restorative Justice Ireland (CRJI) have been involved in restorative justice interventions for over two decades at a community level. While their organisational roots pre-date contemporary criminal justice arrangements, CRJI has continued to flourish and grow in spite of austerity and the COVID19 pandemic over that time. Engaging both CRJI practitioners and criminological experts, this panel debate seeks to discuss why in 2021, restorative rather than simply punitive justice approaches to societal problems are more vital than ever in dealing with the criminogenic consequences of inequality, poverty and marginalization. Challenging popular notions about ‘crime’, the panel will further discuss why solutions to complex social needs require community-based foundations for sustainable and lasting change.
The panel discussion will draw on a range of practitioner and criminological perspectives to discuss and debate the value of restorative justice interventions within the context of entrenched and deepening social and economic inequality in society.
While at popular level society is attuned to particular – mostly criminal justice – responses to individual-level behaviours defined under the ‘crime’ heading, a number of bigger questions tend to be ignored amidst political noise to be ‘tough on crime’. With restorative justice alive to both individual and community dynamics around crime and harmful behaviours, is it possible for interventions to be made before problems arise? Is the criminal justice system actually efficient at dealing with society’s criminogenic phenomena? What needs do those coming in contact with the criminal justice system have after crimes have occurred – for victims, offenders and communities? What is the value of ‘community’ in dealing with local problems? As a snapshot of the issues to consider, the panel will include key experts and practitioners from the world of restorative justice and criminology to help debate some of those questions/
Harry Maguire, Director of Community Restorative Justice Ireland (CRJI) CRJI was founded in 1998 in an effort to provide accessible, nonviolent methods of conflict resolution to local communities. Stemming from a series of conversations between community members and individuals within the voluntary sector (see CRJI’s foundational document The Blue Book for more information), CRJI was able to secure funding to launch four pilot locations across Belfast. Originally designed as an alternative to paramilitary punishment violence, services rapidly expanded as the organisation became more established and accepted. The organisation eventually grew to six locations throughout Belfast, and launched offices in Derry and Newry/Armagh. In 2008, CRJI was accredited by the Department of Justice, making it one of two restorative justice organisations to receive this distinction. Since that time, CRJI has continued to develop its practice and standards, and is now regarded as an international beacon for restorative justice.
Services now cover a wide variety of programmes, including mediation, support and advice, housing aid, social justice initiatives, and under threat interventions, in addition to a host of other activities. CRJI regularly collaborates with statutory agencies, including the PSNI, NI Housing Executive, Social Services, and Probation, as well as local organisations, such as women’s centres, food banks, housing associations, and youth groups. CRJI continues to look towards the future, endeavouring to empower local communities to holistically prevent crime and restoratively address incidents of conflict, with the ultimate goal of building a more tolerant, responsive, and inclusive society.
Professor Shadd Maruna, Queen’s University Belfast Shadd Maruna is Professor of Criminology at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. Previously, he has worked at the University of Cambridge, the University of Manchester, and Rutgers University, where he was the Dean of the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice (USA). His research focuses on desistance from crime and implications for prisoner reintegration. He is the author or editor of seven books, including, Rehabilitation: Beyond the Risk Paradigm (with Tony Ward), Fifty Key Thinkers in Criminology (with Keith Hayward and Jayne Mooney), most recently, The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (with Alison Liebling and Lesley McAra). His book Making Good: How Ex-Convicts Reform and Rebuild Their Lives was named the Outstanding Contribution to Criminology in 2001. He received the inaugural Research Medal from the Howard League for Penal Reform for his research’s impact on real world practice in the criminal justice system.
Andrea McLoughlin, Community Restorative Justice Ireland (CRJI) Andrea has over 13 years’ experience in the community youth work field and is passionate advocate of restorative practices. Andrea was introduced to restorative justice when studying a Community Youth Work degree at the University of Ulster and subsequently undertook a placement at the Youth Justice Agency, where she became increasingly curious as to how restorative elements could be effectively integrated into community work, specifically when supporting youth and families. She has also worked in a residential and alternative education provision based in Australia for two years. Andrea continues to work with families and youth, working in ISCYP and child protection with the NSPCC before joining CRJI. Andrea has worked on a range of projects within CRJI over the past 7 years, such as WAYS; Wrap Around Youth Support, Aspire and currently the STARS project (Striving Towards A Restorative Society).
Andrea has a Master’s degree in Restorative Practices, is trained in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, Accidental Counselling, and Leadership and Management. She is also a volunteer with the Cancer Fund for Children NI, is a board member of Bytes, and completed the Boardroom Apprenticeship programme with Victim Support NI in 2018.
Dr John Topping, Queen’s University Belfast John Topping is a senior lecturer in criminology at QUB and his research focuses on the broad field of policing, including police reform, community policing, stop and search and police training. He has a long experience of engaging with the voluntary and community sector having previously sat on the Executive of the Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NIACRO); and acted as an Independent Member of the Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP). He is currently Chairperson of CRJI, while also sitting on the Executive of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ).
Find out more: crjireland.org • qub school of social sciences, education and social work