Running Head: Re-integrative Shaming
In the examination of international criminal justice, a number of approaches and practices of significance arise through research of existing criminal justice systems. However, the question arises to those who study the effectiveness of these practices on an international level as to how we measure the practicality of one approach in comparison to that of another system. Hence, this paper in congruence with a number of proponents in the criminal justice field will compare varying justice systems based on potential reduction of recidivism, the practice it is likely to obtain. In doing so we will look at the use of “re-integrative shaming” (Braithwaite, 2000) in two very distinct cultures, that of Canada and Japan. In attempt to validate this, assume that re-integrative shaming is a highly culturally dependent practice, that is only effective as the degree of “social solidarity” (Slattery, 2003) existent in the cultural context. Meaning that this paper will argue that this form of restorative justice is ineffective in a Canadian context for two reasons; one being the increase in heterogeneous solidarity of Canadian society and the second being the move of the justice system to normative conceptions of punitive justice as being the only real justice. As a secondary function of this argument, this provision can likely shed light on where the justice professional of the future can lay the foundations both academic and ethically in consideration of future practice in the justice system.
The central precept of re-integrative shaming is founded on the belief that shaming is a significant factor in the quest for human behavior regulation. However, the degree of success varies in accordance to its application as it may take the form of stigmatization or reintegration. The former type is viewed as derogatory in nature and its effects on an individual are unconstructive while the latter has a positive influence on behavior change. Braithwaite (2000) defines shaming as an expression of displeasure carried out by the society in a bid to create penitence in the concerned individual. Consequently, upon the creation of remorse, the individual resorts to affirmative behavior from an introspective capacity. Re-integrative shaming is defined as that which involves the act of forgiveness as the closure of the shaming process and secondly, a deferential shaming process. In addition to this, effectual communication is paramount to the reduction of crime rates in the society in the sense, the better the communication, then the lower the crime levels. The inverse of this statement holds as true too.
In the context of criminology, re-integrative shaming centers on the behavior of a criminal as opposed to the criminal. In other words, the criminal is made to understand that he/she is a good person and the action is what is termed as evil (Ahmed, 2001). Stigmatization is the converse of integrative shaming. The criminal is branded as evil, which infuses the element of stigma. The process does not support any form of forgiveness and so the criminal has to live with the guilt and retribution feelings in a permanent sense. Communication acts as an indicator for what type of communication a society may be upholding. When a society supports re-integrative shaming, it is an indication that effectual communication between the community and the criminals is present, whereas, the mushrooming of stigmatizing practices serves as a signal for ineffectual communication (McLaughlin, 2003). It is argued that, low criminal rates require the upholding of respect and forgiveness aspects towards criminals from the society.
African and Asian cultures are best known for their re-integrative shaming approach towards the reduction of crime. In Afghanistan, the Pushtoon community uses the Nanante ceremony as a respectful shaming process to institute proper behavior in criminals. Typically, the Nanante is organized and held in the victim’s residence with the whole community gathering for the ceremony. The ceremony involves a feast whose food items are provided by the criminal, but the preparations are all left to the victim. Once the event commences and at the appropriate designated time, the offender is called upon and informed of his wrong, and the conflict is resolved when both parties have reached an understanding and forgiveness is attained (Braithwaite, 2000). The criminal is also then given the assurance that he/she will be accepted back to the society with no other form of requirement. Note that, the two factors of re-integrative shaming namely respect and forgiveness are present. If the community resorts to branding the offender as being evil, then stigma will result.
Some scholars however hold that this form of shaming is widely practiced in African and Asian continents due to their conventional settings as well as developing or underdeveloped economic setting. In addition to this, the argument postulates that effectual reiterative shaming can only be supported by conservative law systems and not modern ones (Braithwaite, 1993). This argument however is weakened by the case of Japan, ranked as a developed economy and boasting of a very low crime level attributed to the practice of re-integrative shaming. To establish this, studies have shown that Japan has a crime rate of 0.037% when compared to the US that has 0.5% (Braithwaite, 2000). This means that for the Japanese population, out of very one hundred individuals only 3.7 are criminals and they are a representative of the percentage that is convicted for jail terms. This stands in sharp contrast with America that for every one hundred individuals, 50 are convicted criminals. Interestingly, Japan cultivates this form of culture in its citizens from within a very young age and especially in schools. Japanese teachers have been instructed in this form of behavior correction and it has truly paid off in a huge way.
To demonstrate re-integrative shaming in the classroom, let us assume a simple case involving two students, one being the delinquent and the other being the victim. The teacher makes a point of visiting both children’s residences where each student is expected to narrate their actions before the audience made up of the instructor and their parents. Upon the completion of this, a joint session with both the students and their parents is arranged and the police and any other interested parties attend. The teacher fills in the audience with the case, and thereafter calls upon the students to give their sides and the consequences of their actions. The audience is then allowed to give comments on either of both of the students and upon the completion of this, the forgiveness session acts as the closure. The students, parents and teachers take an active role in this. Later, the teacher arranges to meet the students and recap events contributing to the major meeting, with the students giving their views and comments about the session and the teacher emphasizing on the wrong done and not the wrong doer (Braithwaite, 2000).
With this behavior rectification process, power devolution is practiced in the classroom setting between the teacher and the students. The children’s identity is boosted by the use of appreciative words such as good, and it prevents the teachers from falling into the view that children often misbehave from an intended perspective. Japan’s criminal department acts from the same principles where the police force uses the same principles in their interrogation session to ensure that the criminal is well aware of the wrong. The police officers in charge of such sessions ensure they ask leading questions centering on the crime itself in the bid to establish whether the criminal consents to have committed a crime, why the action is criminal and the views/effects of the action on whom it affected (Ahmed, 2001). Once this has been established, the offender is asked to relate his/her feelings towards own actions. If this session ends with a jail term, it is believed that the communication process between the offender and the police officer has imparted the required lesson on the given individuals, which more often than never serves as the point for behavior change.
Western cultures, with a strong reference to North America (Canada), have positively moved towards the adoption of this form of shaming in their practices, being instituted in the most fundamental setting of all, the family. Studies have indicated that parents who are directly being involved with the cultivation of reintegrated shame in their young ones, founded on mutual respect and affection, tend to have law-upholding children in their adult age than those who take to stigmatizing practices (Bloom, 2005). The rate of reintegrated shaming in the West picked up in the 20th century although it has a lot to achieve when compared to the African and Asian societies. Western communities unlike the Asian and African communities believe that the fear of reprimand acts as a disincentive for crime and criminal tendencies in individuals. This has led to the view that punitive justice that relies on the use of reprimands is the effectual solution to crime reduction.
Punitive justice has its roots in retributive justice whose arguments are founded on the assertion that crime is an infringement of state precepts and therefore becomes a crime against the given nation. With this, the state uses the court system to establish a valid case between the lawbreaker and the victim. The former is then christened the position of a spectator in the courtroom while the latter is viewed as the witness. The judges and jury then act as the decisive components with the application of state law in arbitrating the law case (McLaughlin, 2003). With the setting complete, the whole system focuses on the offender where he/she is labeled as a criminal and the proceedings are made with the aim of establishing whether the allegations are true or not. The law attorneys clearly bring out the labeling acts as they try to tarnish each their client’s opponents in the bid to win the case. This form of justice is truly unreliable in the sense that, the decision reached mainly relies on the arguments formulate and the way of representation. The focus of the punitive system is highly erroneous in that the system does not care as to whether the offender has learnt from the past mistake or not.
Jail terms are also not a good solution towards behavior correction since they act as a short-term solution to criminal behavior and tendencies. The 2007 recidivism rate in Canada remained at seventy-five percent within a two-year period of release in a number of imprisonment categories. Young offenders had the highest recidivism rate with most of the offence categories having one hundred percent. The rates remained at a high level even with the accounting of factors that may have had a significance influence on recidivism. In 2007, all criminal offences in Canada ranged between eighty and ninety-five percent recidivism for both jail sentences and home rehabilitation in a two-year release period (Morris, 2010). The highest recorded recidivism rate in Japan was recorded as 38.8 % in the year 2006. The article further revealed that young offenders had a higher propensity to recidivism but within a five-year period unlike the two-year period given by the Canadian reports. Foreign individuals often marked the higher percentage of the offenses in Japan (Hongo, 2007).
Braithwaite (2000) asserts that what is actually termed as ‘fear’ by the West is but the shame attached towards any given form of action. He further argues that the more a person is exposed to an act being shameful results into a deeper conviction that the action is wrong since it has a high shame status imputed by the society in terms of ethicality. With this in mind, the author further argues that in a court setting, the judge holds no significant place for the criminal as loved ones in form of the family and friends do. Even with the pronouncement of justice, a criminal worries more about the effect of the sentence on family and friends attributed to the care, affection and relational ties acting between them. It is therefore true that any form of reprimand from family and friends has a positive and great influence on the offender. Using such factors while interrogating and reprimanding a criminal tend to have a similar effect enforced by the criminal justice system.
Restorative justice on the other hand is founded on the precept that crime is a contravention of existing relations and all the affected people. Addressing the wrong done and all affected parties involved in the crime is a dual process that combines the efforts of the whole community (law) in the betterment of behavior (Daly, 2001). This stands in sharp contrast to the retributive system that centers on the three paternalistic components of deciding whether an action constitutes to a crime, the person being charged for the crime and the penalty that should be awarded. From the discussion, it is quite prevalent that the society plays a significant role in both reintegrated shaming and restorative justice. Studies have indicated that the higher the social cohesion the higher the success of reintegrated shaming. This is based on the virtues that such a society is embedded in namely respect and human value.
It is also believed that communities act as the best dispensing grounds for restorative justice when compared to the state. With the question of modernity, the working places as well as schools serve as suitable grounds for the practice of restorative justice (Braithwaite, 1993). Canada is currently trying to adopt the restorative form of justice but with the concept of the society, it has to work harder in the establishment of higher social cohesion that has been in the past inhibited by its heterogeneous solidarity setting. Otherwise, the state stands a high chance of losing in its fight against a retributive system. In conclusion, performing a cost benefit analysis between restorative and retributive justice indicates that the former has the ability to achieve the desired edge of crime reduction in the society and therefore should be upheld as the superior form of justice administration. Japan may be in the quest of adopting a mixed form of jury but they should apply their understanding on the subject by appraising the cost that is attached to such a system with a review of the Western culture with regard to crimes (Bloom, 2005).
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