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Program Profile: Canberra Reintegrative Shaming Experiments

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on July 23, 2013

Program Summary

A restorative justice program that incorporates the Wagga Wagga conference model as a diversion from conventional court processing. The program is rated Promising. The evaluation found a significant decrease in the reoffending rates of violent offenders some impact on offenders’ attitudes about the legitimacy of the law and reoffending. The evaluation found a limited impact of diversionary conferencing on recidivism outcomes.

Program Description

Program Goals
The Reintegrative Shaming Experiments (RISE) in Canberra, Australia, were designed to measure the impact of “restorative policing” on both victims and offenders’ perceptions of justice, as well as overall satisfaction following the conference. The experiments also investigated the impact of restorative justice diversionary practices, particularly those that used the Wagga Wagga conference model, on repeat offending. The ultimate goal of the conference is to repair the harm caused by the offense by bringing together the offender, victim, and members of the community in a way that allows offenders to reintegrate into the community, and victims to return to their normal routines without fear of further victimization.

Program Theory
Restorative justice places both the victim and the offender at the center of the framework, allowing the victim to express the harm caused, while allowing the offender to take responsibility for his or her actions and make amends for the future. It is believed that a conference, which brings together the offender, victim, and supportive individuals for both parties, is a less stigmatizing environment for offenders. Some scholars believe that conventional criminal justice process stigmatizes the offender as an “other,” excluding him or her and hindering the reintegration process. Therefore, it is believed that the reintegrative shaming process used in restorative justice conferences could have a far greater impact on the reoffending rate of offenders, as it expresses disapproval of the offenders’ actions, yet offers support and belief in the individual for the future (Braithwaite 1989). Likewise, victims will have a more positive perception of justice and less fear of re-victimization by participating in restorative justice conferences, as they are able to have a voice in the process (Braithwaite and Mugford 1994). 

Program Components
The RISE experiments were conducted to test the impact of reintegrative shaming conferences used in restorative justice. Diversionary conferencing, particularly the Wagga Wagga model investigated in the RISE experiments, typically lasts 1–2 hours. During this time the offender, victim, and supportive individuals for both parties discuss the crime, its impact, and reach an agreement on how the offender can make amends for the future. The Wagga Wagga model is different than other diversionary conferences in that the conference coordinator and facilitator is a police officer, and the conference is held at a police station; other diversionary conferences are held by non-police coordinators and facilitators at various other locations. In contrast to other restorative justice models, the Wagga Wagga conference model also used a great deal of reintegrative shaming.

The RISE experiments included offenders who had committed four types of offenses: drinking and driving, juvenile property offenses, juvenile shoplifting offenses, and youth violent offenses. The aim of the project was to include “middle range” offenses, neither so trivial that they would normally be dealt with by a simple caution or warning, nor so serious that the police would be reluctant to bypass the court system in favor of an experimental alternative (serious, sexual, and domestic violence offenses were excluded).

Evaluation Outcomes

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Although Sherman, Strang, and Woods (2000) and Tyler and colleagues (2007) found limited impact of diversionary conferencing on recidivism outcomes when examining the data from the Reintegrative Shaming Experiments (RISE), there was some impact on offenders’ attitudes about the legitimacy of the law and reoffending.

Study 1
Violent Offenses
Sherman, Strang, and Woods (2000) found that diversionary conferencing resulted in a significant decrease in the reoffending rates of violent offenders. Diversionary conferencing reduced reoffending by approximately 38 crimes per 100 offenders per year.

Drinking and Driving
Although there was a small increase in drinking and driving offenses for offenders assigned to diversionary conferencing compared with offenders who went through court processing as usual, the difference between the groups was not significant.

Juvenile Property and Shoplifting Offenses
There were no differences found between the court processing and diversionary conferencing groups for juvenile property offenses or juvenile shoplifting offenses.

Study 2
Police Recorded Recidivism
Tyler and colleagues (2007) found that restorative justice conferencing did not have a significant impact on recidivism compared to traditional court processing at the 2-year follow up.

Self-Report Drinking and Driving
Similarly, results did not indicate a significant treatment effect in terms of frequency of drinking and driving.

Self-Report Efforts to Not Drink and Drive
A treatment effect was found in terms of making an effort not to drink and drive. Offenders assigned to diversionary conferencing indicated that they made a greater effort not to drink and drive than those who were assigned to court processing. The difference between the groups was significant.

Self-Report Legitimacy of the Law
Offenders assigned to diversionary conferencing indicated a greater belief in the legitimacy of the law compared with offenders who went through court processing. The difference between the groups was significant.

Self-Report Reoffending Beliefs
Offenders assigned to diversionary conferencing indicated a greater understanding of the impact that breaking the law would have on their families compared with offenders who went through court processing. Therefore, even though direct treatment effects were not found to significantly impact recidivism, offenders that were assigned to the conference did view the process as more legitimate and believed that subsequent rule breaking would be a problem.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Sherman, Strang, and Woods (2000) investigated the recidivism behavior of offenders involved in diversionary restorative justice conferences. The Reintegrative Shaming Experiments (RISE) randomly assigned cases, rather than offenders, to either the treatment condition (conference) or to conventional court processing. A “case” was defined as all of the offenders who were apprehended together for the same criminal offense. Both males and females were included in the study, with an age range of 15–29. RISE took place between 1995 and 2000 in Canberra, Australia. New cases were accepted until July 1, 2000.

In this study, four offenses were analyzed: drinking and driving, juvenile property offenses, juvenile shoplifting offenses, and youth violent offenses.
  • Drinking and driving was defined as having blood alcohol content over .08 for all offenders. The drinking and driving subset consisted of 900 cases, with 900 offenders (n=450 for court processing and n=450 for diversionary conferencing).
  • Juvenile property offenses was defined as offending with personal victims committed by offenders under the age of 18, and included offenses such as theft, burglary, auto crime, or criminal damage. The juvenile property offending-personal victims subset included 162 cases, with 238 offenders (n=114 for court processing and n=124 for diversionary conferencing).
  • Juvenile shoplifting offenses were offenses committed by offenders under the age of 18 and were detected by security staff. The juvenile shoplifting offenses subset consisted of 108 cases, with 135 offenders (n=62 for court processing and n=73 for diversionary conferencing).
  • Youth violent offenses were offenses committed by offenders under the age of 30, and included offenses such as common assault or aggravated assault. The youth violence subset sample included 89 cases, with 110 offenders (n=52 for court processing and n=58 for diversionary conferencing).
Repeat offending was calculated using criminal history data from the Australian Federal Police. This data includes the criminal trajectories of all individuals in each of the four offense categories. Most, but not all, offense categories included at least a 1-year follow-up period. The analysis examined before–after differences in offending rates between the treatment and comparison groups. One limitation of the experiment is that it did not control for offender and victim differences within the offense categories. Therefore, preexisting offender or victim differences could have impacted any similarities or differences both within offense categories, as well as between the control and experimental conditions.

Study 2
Tyler, Sherman, Strang, Barnes, and Woods (2007) also used data from the RISE experiments to analyze the impact of restorative justice conferencing, specifically the reintegrative shaming aspect of the Wagga Wagga conference model, on recidivism and measures of support for the law. However, Tyler and colleagues only used data from the drinking and driving portion of the earlier study in their analysis. In this study, all offenders were arrested between July 1995 and December 1997, with the majority of offenders arrested as a result of police conducting random breathalyzer tests in Canberra, Australia. A randomized design was used, with offenders randomly assigned to the restorative justice conference or traditional court processing (the control).

The impact of the restorative justice conferencing was analyzed using three different methods: an interview with offenders shortly following the conference or court processing regarding their experience; a follow-up interview with offenders two years after the conference or court processing regarding their experience; and the analysis of police records four years prior and four years following the conference or court processing.

Of the 900 individuals included in this study, 730 were interviewed shortly after the conference or court processing, with 377 individuals from the treatment condition and 353 from the control condition. Two years later, 620 individuals were interviewed regarding their experience, which included 313 individuals from the treatment condition and 307 from the control condition. Finally, police records included criminal activity for all 900 offenders four years prior and four years following the conference or court processing.

The first interview was conducted to investigate offenders’ experience in the conference or court processing. In this interview, offenders were asked to make judgments on the fairness of the conference or court processing, the fairness of police treatment, and the legitimacy of the legal system. The second interview, conducted two years after the conference or court processing, investigated offenders’ law-related attitudes. These interviews focused on the offender’s belief in the legitimacy of the law and the obligation they felt to obey the law, as well as the problems they believed breaking the law would create for their family or community.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Implementation Information

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A Wagga Wagga restorative justice conference requires participation from a police officer to function as a conference coordinator. There also needs to be a willingness from the offender and victim to participate in the conference, as well as the presence of supportive individuals for both the offender and victim at the conference. Forced participation from either party would not be appropriate, as the offender has to enter into an agreement that he or she will attempt to make amends for the offense. Similarly the victim must be open to listening to the offender, and allow him or her to attempt to make amends for the crime.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Sherman, Lawrence W., Heather Strang, and Daniel J. Woods. 2000. Recidivism Patterns in Canberra Reintegrative Shaming Experiments (RISE). Canberra, Australia: Australian National University, Research School of Social Sciences, Centre for Restorative Justice.

Study 2
Tyler, Tom R., Lawrence Sherman, Heather Strang, Geoffrey C. Barnes, and Daniel Woods. 2007. “Reintegrative Shaming, Procedural Justice, and Recidivism: The Engagement of Offenders’ Psychological Mechanisms in the Canberra RISE Drinking-and-Driving Experiment.” Law & Society Review 41(3):553–585.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Braithwaite, John. 1989. Crime, Shame, and Reintegration. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University.

Braithwaite, John, and Stephen Mugford. 1994. “Conditions of Successful Reintegration Ceremonies.” British Journal of Criminology 34(2):139–171.

Kim, Hee Joo, and Jurg Gerber. 2010. “Evaluating the Process of a Restorative Justice Conference: An Examination of Factors that Lead to Reintegrative Shaming.” Asia Pacific Journal of Police & Criminal Justice 8(2):1–19.

Marshall, Tony F. 1999. Restorative Justice: An Overview. London, UK: Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate.

Miller, Jennifer. 2007. The Influence of Attitude: A Sociological Investigation of Reintegrative Shaming Theory. MA thesis, Kansas State University.

Strang, Healther, Lawrence Sherman, Caroline M. Angel, Daniel J. Woods, Sarah Bennett, Dorothy Newbury-Birch, and Nova Inkpen. 2006. “Victim Evaluations of Face-to-Face Restorative Justice Conferences: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis.” Journal of Social Issues 62(2):281–306.
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Juvenile Diversion Programs
An intervention strategy that redirects youths away from formal processing in the juvenile justice system, while still holding them accountable for their actions. The practice is rated Promising for reducing recidivism rates of juveniles who participated in diversion programming compared with juveniles who were formally processed in the justice system.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - More than one Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
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Program Snapshot

Age: 15 - 29

Gender: Both

Geography: Suburban, Urban

Setting (Delivery): Other Community Setting

Program Type: Diversion, Restorative Justice, Victim Programs

Targeted Population: Young Offenders, Victims of Crime, Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Offenders

Current Program Status: Not Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide

Researcher:
Lawrence Sherman
Wolfson Professor of Criminology
University of Cambridge, Institute of Criminology
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge CB3 9DT
Phone: 44.0.1223.762094
Email