Do you think that reintegrative shaming will work in rehabilitating criminals in contemporary society?

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The theory of reintegrative shaming is that an offender, when released into a society that condemns the action yet still values the individual, will be less likely to commit the crime again. This supposes two things: that the offender feels ashamed of his action and that sense of shame is reinforced by others around him. If both of these exist, then reintegrative shaming can be an effective way to reduce crime. It is successful in many traditional societies, where people live in close contact with one another and know each other intimately.

However, it is uncertain how this would work in contemporary society. There are several reasons why it would be more challenging. First, there is a sense of anonymity in society nowadays. Reintegrative shaming will not work to reduce crime if the criminals do not care what others think about them. People who feel isolated or marginalized won't benefit from this theory until they first feel welcomed and valued in society.

Secondly, there are some cultural challenges that would need to be overcome. Some crimes, unfortunately, are almost rewarded. People can feel proud, for example, of having robbed a convenience store. If their peers praise the action or value it, then the criminal is more likely to take action again, regardless of whether or not they were punished for it.

In terms of treating everyone, including those who have committed crimes, with humanity and respect, reintegrative shaming is a powerful idea. For it to work, though, society has to commit to it and stay united in the separation of the individual from their action. Furthermore, people must feel that they are known and cared for in order for the theory to have effect.

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