Building a Shame-Based Typology to Guide Treatment for Offenders

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      Rehabilitative treatment of offenders has traditionally aimed at reducing recidivism. Services are adjusted rationally according to the "risk principle." Restorative justice points to the increasing importance of an emotionally intelligent justice where shame management is highlighted in mediating individual offender behavior. Informed by the success of restorative justice conferencing, notably with violent crimes, a treatment program dealing with violent offenders adapted a "shame transformation" process. Treatment is based on experiencing victims' feelings through differentiating, then activating, shame and guilt. Research and client observations led to elaboration of three specific groupings according to how early shame affected the offender's life. Traits from each of the three types were collected in a screening instrument called the Shame Guilt Reactivity Index (SGRI) whose construct validity is explored in this research. While the results are promising, more work needs to be done to strengthen the SGRI as an assessment tool for separating the three groups specified. (Contains 4 tables.)
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