The Use of 'Shame' with Sexual Offenders

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This article explores the use of shaming mechanisms with sexual offenders, particularly those who offend against children. Shaming, a central concept in the broader theory of restorative justice, may be of two varieties. The first, ‘disintegrative shaming’, characterises the traditional retributive framework of justice and is evident in recent state led and popular responses to the risk posed by released sexual offenders. Far from ensuring offender integration, the net result is often labelling, stigmatisation, ostracism and a return to offending behaviour. The second, ‘reintegrative shaming’, affirms the offender’s membership within law abiding society. This has been used in several jurisdictions as the basis of restorative support and treatment networks for sexual offenders where the community works in partnership with state and voluntary agencies. Contrary to arguments put forward by critics of restorative justice, this article argues that such cases may be particularly suitable for a restorative approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-394
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005

Bibliographical note

Nominated for the British Society of Criminology article of the year 2005 and ranked joint no. 2 in the most cited articles from the BJC for that year.

Reprinted in Brooks, T. (ed) (2014), Shame Punishment. Crime and Punishment: Critical Essays in Legal Philosophy Series (Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Part IV).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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