Individuals – Sherman et al. (2000) (Juvenile Shoplifting Offenders)

Study Reference:

Sherman, L. W., Strang, H., & Woods, D. J. (2000). Recidivism Patterns in the Canberra Reintegrative Shaming Experiments (Rise). Canberra, Australia: Centre for Restorative Justice, Australian National University.

Location in the Matrix and Methodological Rigor:

Individuals; General; Reactive; Very rigorous; No evidence of an effect

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This review analyzes the effects of diversionary restorative justice conferences in Canberra, Australia known as the Reintegrative Shaming Experiments (RISE) on four types of offending. The focus of this summary is the impact of restorative justice on youths who commit shoplifting. When used as a diversion from court prosecution, restorative justice conferences generally involve a young person who has admitted to the offence, conferencing with their supporters, the victim, the victim’s supporters, a police officer, and a moderator to discuss the offense and its impact. The discussion produces an outcome that the offender is expected to fulfill, often involving apologizing to the victim, financial restitution or personal or community service work. The program’s theory is largely drawn from Braithwaite’s theory of reintegrative shaming (1989), which argues that restorative intervention reduces stigmatization and provides an opportunity for offenders to reintegrate into the community and commit less crime.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The experiment randomly assigned 108 cases involving 135 juvenile offenders to traditional court processes or to a restorative conference. Offending rates in the year before and the year after the assignment were compared using official criminal history data. Other outcome measures include the perceptions of procedural fairness, experienced shaming and emotional intensity by offenders.

What were the key findings?

The conferences did not produce any significant differences in juvenile shoplifting offenders compared to those who were assigned traditional court processes. However, offenders reported experiencing stronger emotional intensity and shaming as well as being treated procedurally fairer in the conference than in the court.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that restorative justice conferences may not reduce reoffending for shoplifting offenders.

Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?