Restorative Justice: Strategies for Change (RJS4C) is a new collaborative project which aims to encourage the development of restorative justice in Europe. It seeks to achieve this by identifying, connecting and supporting a small group of persons – the ‘Core Members’ – in each participating jurisdiction, whose role it is to develop and implement a co-created strategy with a larger group of policymakers, practitioners, researchers, activists and other relevant, local parties – the ‘Stakeholder Group’.
The purpose of the project is threefold:
- to contribute towards refocusing European criminal justice systems, agencies, policies and practices around restorative principles and processes;
- to share successful strategies used in different countries to develop law, regulation, policy, practice and public awareness around restorative justice; and
- to determine how the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2018)8 concerning restorative justice in criminal matters, adopted in October 2018, could be used as a vehicle to support this work.
The project involves ten participating jurisdictions: Albania, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland. In each jurisdiction, between two and four persons, drawn from policy, practice, academia and civil society, are acting as the Core Members.
In 2019, Core Members organised national meetings which brought together their Stakeholder Groups in order to co-create a local strategy for the development of restorative justice in that country. For example, Ireland organised a meeting of almost 100 local stakeholders in Maynooth in March, and similar events were held in Utrecht in June, in Rome in July and in Tallinn in August. There will also be a large international conference on restorative justice in Prague in October. In January, Poland launched a new Facebook page to support their campaign, and in June, Ireland and Scotland published their national strategies.
Core Members from all ten jurisdictions will also meet once a year in one of the participating jurisdictions. The 2019 meeting was hosted by Ireland and funded by the Maynooth University Department of Law; the 2020 meeting will be hosted by the Estonian Ministry of Justice. These meetings play a crucial role in equipping Core Members with the skills, contacts and motivation to develop restorative justice in their countries. For example, the meeting in Ireland involved the sharing of information and expertise from each country, as well as a series of training sessions on design thinking, policy development, strategic change and multi-agency working. Core Members will also organise study visits between their countries as part of the project in the coming years.
RJS4C began in January 2019 as a voluntary initiative of its coordinators and Core Members and will last four years to January 2023. It is coordinated jointly by Dr. Ian Marder (Maynooth University Department of Law), Gert Jan Slump (Restorative Justice Nederland) and the European Forum for Restorative Justice. For more information, please contact Dr. Marder ([email protected]).