By John Braithwaite
Although written without knowledge of the conferencing process, Australian criminologist John Braithwaite's book Crime, Shame and Reintegration provides a sociological explanation for why conferencing works so well.
Braithwaite explains that the desire to avoid shame aids in the development of conscience and social bonds. He distinguishes between two types of shame: stigmatizing shame which rejects and permanently labels offenders and reintegrative shame which only rejects the offender's deed but not the offender himself.
Conferences encourage positive personal change in offenders because unlike courts, conferences allow offenders to shed their offender label and be reintegrated into the community.
From the back cover:
Crime, Shame and Reintegration is a contribution to general criminological theory. Its approach is as relevant to professional burglary as to episodic delinquency or white collar crime. Braithwaite argues that some societies have higher crime rates because of their different processes of shaming wrongdoing. Shaming can be counterproductive, making crime problems worse. But when shaming is done within a cultural context of respect for the offender, it can be an extraordinarily powerful, efficient and just form of social control.
Braithwaite identifies the social conditions for such successful shaming. If his theory is right, radically different criminal justice policies are needed—a shift away from punitive social toward greater emphasis on moralizing social control.
This book will be of interest not only to criminologists and sociologists, but to those in law, public administration and politics who are concerned with social policy and social issues.
"Braithwaite's new book is important. It integrates legalistic ideas about deterrence with sociological and social psychological ideas about why people commit delinquencies and crimes. It won't be the last word on crime causation, but it will set scholars and researchers on the right path to enunciating the last word. I predict that Crime, Shame and Reintegration will become and important pattern-setting document in criminology."
—Donald R. Cressey, late Emeritus Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara