Le Cheile’s Restorative Justice Project Returns Nearly €3 for Every €1 Invested
A study of Ireland’s first and only non-statutory youth restorative justice service has shown that it returns nearly €3 for every €1 invested. Le Chéile’s Restorative Justice Project in Limerick provides a range of restorative justice services to young people who have been involved in crime and are engaged with the Probation Service.
The study found significant benefits not only for young people but also for the families and the victims of crime. Young people displayed a significant increase in their levels of empathy towards victims after engaging with the project, as well as reporting better family relationships and less contact with the Gardaí and court system. Parents reported positive outcomes for family life and improved relationships.
Victims of crime found that restorative justice (RJ) was a far better experience than the traditional criminal justice system. They stated that in participating with the RJ Project they had a meaningful voice and found it to be a more respectful and inclusive approach that the traditional court process.
CEO of Le Chéile, Anne Conroy said, “The study shows that Restorative Justice should be a preferred option for young people who offend. We’ve now have the evidence that it repairs the harm done to the victim, the community and the family. The future is bright for Restorative Justice in Ireland and Le Chéile is proud to be a lead agency in demonstrating and practicing Restorative Justice in the Youth Sector.”
The evaluation was launched at a seminar in Limerick City Hall on Wednesday, 28 January attended by the Director of the Probation Service, Vivian Guerin and Chairperson of UCC’s Child Law Clinic, Professor Ursula Kilkenny, Mayor of Limerick City and County Council, Cllr. Kevin Sheehan. The study was carried out by Quality Matters who commented that “the project displayed value for money. It was found that for every euro invested in the project over €2.80 of value was generated. Much of this value was due to the reduction in criminal behaviour which resulted from young people engaging in the project.”
The project, established in 2010, works with young people on probation using a range of RJ models including face-to-face meetings, proxy victims, victim empathy programmes, and reparation. The RJ project is part of Le Chéile Mentoring & Youth Justice Support Services, which provides volunteer mentoring as well as RJ, and family support services to young people who offend.