Why Persistent Offenders Cannot Be Shamed into Behaving




Christina M. Jones

Journal of Offender Rehabilitation

Volume 53, Issue 3, 2014

04 Apr 2014






Shaming may appear as an intuitively appealing method for deterring offenders from criminal behavior. However, the experience of shame in the offender population and its role in reducing reoffending has been empirically understudied. Utilizing a review of the existing literature, it will be argued that patterns of externalizing blame and narcissism observed within the offender population increase the likelihood that shame will be bypassed and replaced with other-directed anger and aggression. Instead of being purposefully fostered, shame needs to be carefully handled in the context of a trusting therapeutic relationship. Thus, recommendations are provided for identifying and managing shame in order to establish prosocial behavior change.