A restorative justice programme at the Isle of Man Prison is continuing to earn recognition for its powerful contribution towards the rehabilitation of offenders.
Delivered by the PrisonWorks charity in conjunction with the Department of Home Affairs, the innovative project helps prisoners address the consequences of their actions and lead more productive lives on their release from custody.
It also provides a constructive way in which offenders can make amends for the harm they have caused and gives victims of crime an opportunity to explain the distress they have experienced.
PrisonWorks, a volunteer-led organisation, recently won the prestigious Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation 2014 for its ‘outstanding’ work with offenders over the past two years.
And HRH The Princess Royal commended the restorative justice programme during a visit to the Isle of Man Prison in January.
A letter from Buckingham Palace read: ‘Her Royal Highness found it interesting to talk to prisoners who had obviously benefitted greatly from these inspirational projects. The Princess was also delighted to meet volunteers from PrisonWorks. Her Royal Highness is very keen on restorative justice and was glad to see how successful the charity is in giving additional support to work already undertaken by probation and resettlement officers.’
Restorative justice is the process of bringing together those harmed by crime with those responsible for the harm, to find a positive way forward.
The use of restorative measures in the Isle of Man is being explored as part of the Criminal Justice Strategy, which is aimed at improving key policy areas in respect of crime prevention and sentencing.
Part of the strategy places a renewed focus on the rehabilitation of offenders and on providing a better service for victims of crime.
Restorative justice provides prisoners with an opportunity to reflect on the consequences of their actions and to repair and maintain good relations with their own families. It can also help victims to recover from the impact of crime and gives them a more powerful voice within the criminal justice system.
Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK said: ‘We are continuing to look at ways of reducing the social and financial impact of crime as part of our commitment towards maintaining public safety. Restorative justice is in no way a soft option. There is growing evidence that it meets the needs of victims and reduces the frequency of reoffending. A reduction in crime means fewer victims and safer communities.’
Michael Coleman MLC, DHA Member with responsibility for the Prison and Probation Service, added: ‘It can be difficult for people living in a small island community to make a fresh start and put their past behind them. The restorative justice programme run by PrisonWorks encourages offenders to take personal responsibility for their behaviour and enables them to receive the support they need to lead a law abiding life. The Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation and positive comments by HRH The Princess Royal reflect the progress that is being achieved.’