Individuals – Sherman et al. (2000) (Violent 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, Effective

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 violent crimes. 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 89 cases involving 110 offenders under the age of 30 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 by victims and offenders, victim satisfaction with the process, and costs.

What were the key findings?

The offending of those who attended a restorative conference fell by 49 percent while offending for those assigned to traditional court processes only fell by 11 percent. Offenders and victims reported the conferences to be procedurally fairer than court. Higher levels of victim satisfaction were also reported with conferences than with court.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that restorative justice conferences can be effective in reducing repeat offending for violent offenders.

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