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Restorative justice 'worth the investment'

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There was a remarkable example of restorative justice on a programme that went out on National Prison Radio last night featuring Ray and Violet Donovan, a couple from Surrey, talking about the murder of their son by a gang of youths in the street.

In the programme they talked to a group of violent criminals who had been involved in similar crimes, about how their sons Phil and Chris were attacked on the street which resulted in the death of Chris.

A witness said the attack by the youths were like "taking penalty shots on a rat," Ray Donovan said.

"I couldn't accept it", his wife Violet added, "your whole life is thrown away... you feel like you want to kill them and it begins to destroy you, the anger and the rage".

"I had to learn to forgive and move on... to set myself free", she continued, "my rage is not the answer".

The youths who listened to their story spoke of how upset they were.

One of them said that he could understand how they felt and it when you are committing a crime you are not thinking about how it effects your victims

"I never thought about that person or the pain I caused my victim," one inmate said, while another added that "until this day I've never felt this much remorse" for the pain he had caused his victims.

"If we can save one of you from re-offending..the pain will have been worth it" Ray Donovan said, commending the inmates for their bravery in facing the victims of crimes.

Phil Maguire, chief executive of the Prison Radio Association told the Today programme's Justin Webb that "the impact on the people who took part was incredible...the power of it is undeniable".

He described the atmosphere in the studio which was electric.

"What was achieved... was incredibly powerful", he said, going to say that so far the evidence points to restorative justice reducing the rate of re-offending by 27 % and for every pound that is spent on restorative justice that leads to a saving of £9.

"It's worth the investment," he said.


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