Successful reintegration of offenders

Pereira (2001, 6) argues that most programs in Queensland are designed for non-indigenous males, and are irrelevant in some essential respects to the experience of indigenous women and men. Pereira argues that indigenous counsellors report a need for culturally specific substance abuse programs. The Ending Offending Program mentioned above is culturally specific but only deals with problems relating to alcohol abuse and does not relate to problems such as petrol and glue sniffing.

Pereira (2001, 5) also states that the Queensland Corrective Services continually fails to provide suitable programs that promote responsible reintegration of offenders, especially in regional areas. Lack of availability of programs, inexperienced program facilitators, and a high turnover of staff are just some of the problems raised. Pereira (2001, 5) states that too often graduates with little experience are only accepting jobs in regional areas in order to gain experience.

This situation does little to help offenders who need an experienced and willing practitioner to resolve complex problems. Pereira claims that prisons should not be training grounds for recently qualified social workers, and access to responsible programs is imperative to allow offenders to progress back into the community. Pollard (2001, 17) supports the concept of expanding responsible programs that directly help reintegration of offenders. Pollard (2001, 17) also states that prison should be the principle deterrent for persistent and serious offenders.

However, restorative justice options offer sound and practical benefits, which ultimately helps to create a sense of community. Restorative justice processes also help with reintegration. It is also important for victims to be recognised during the process of reintegration. Positive reintegration programs not only help the offender but also help the victim to carry on with their lives free from further risk from the individual who offended them. This helps to promote an overall sense of community that has been discussed above (Shiers 2002, 5).

Again this concept is supported by Cunneen (2001, 87) who states that it is important for restorative justice and reconciliation processes to provide the opportunity for victim offender reintegration and to focus on the broader issue of individual and community harm, again community is a key issue when discussing reintegration of offenders. However, according to Johnstone (2003, 5) if offenders are to be fully reintegrated back into the community it is important to recognise that acceptance or forgiveness by victims alone is not enough to ensure that the reintegration of an offender is successful.

Johnstone claims that it is important that the social stigma of being an offender is reduced or avoided. This would mean that it is important to promote ideas or concepts that would change the attitudes that the community has towards offenders. Maghan (2001, 1) also agrees with the thoughts of Johnstone and states that everyone views prisoners as the same whether 'inside' or 'outside', of course, this is view is incorrect. Maghan (2002, 2) continues with the concept of community and states that there is a lack of community involvement, which is a formula for failure and is an inappropriate way to develop reintegration.

It is clear that the community is one of the key elements in helping offenders reintegrate back into society, and the ability for the offender to be recognised as a full member of a law abiding community. Umbreit (1994, 5) argues that behavioural change is best achieved by promoting active community involvement in the justice process. A concept of importance raised by McDonald and Moore (2001, 132) is the idea of emotional transformation helping with reintegration of offenders.

It is not the outdated idea of behavioural change, raised above by Masters and Roberts, but the ability of being able to connect with an offender on an emotional level in order to help them understand the wrong that has been caused. Through expressing emotions such as remorse, shame, and undertaking burdensome efforts of reparation, offenders should be allowed to regain respect within the community that has been lost through committing an offence (Johnstone 2003, 13).

The concept of shame developed by Braithwaite (1989) states that crime is best controlled when members of the community actively participate in shaming offenders, and having shamed them, use concerted participation methods to allow reintegration of an offender back into the community (Barton, 2000: 11). This concept known as reintegrative shaming argues that certain forms of shaming produce a positive influence. 'Reintegrative shaming actually has symbolic advantages over stigmatisation because ceremonies of repentance have even more integrative potential than degradation ceremonies' Braithwaite (1989, 156).

It is a way of expressing social disapproval without stigmatising. It is also a concept of labelling the act as evil and not the offender, which will ultimately help with positive reintegration of the offender back into the community (Ahmed, Harris, Braithwaite and Braithwaite, 2001: 134-135). This concept agrees with Johnstone's idea of an offender being able to regain respect within the community. Fraser (1992) does not agree with the theories of Braithwaite. Fraser claims that Braithwaites ideas are based on domination. According to Fraser (1992, 108) the process of reintegrative shaming relies on communication.

Fraser (1992, 109) argues communication in this particular process is one of inequality and domination, and if this inequality and domination is not addressed it can perpetuate the existence of silence and exclusion in the restorative justice process. Furthermore Fraser (1992, 110) also argues that Braithwaite uses moral training in relation to family and school to help with reintegration. Fraser argues that this is based on concepts that the family and school are based on proper moral and normative behaviour, and neglects to consider that bad families and school experiences exist in normal society.

Fraser (1992, 110) claims that Braithwaite has an unthinking acceptance that socialisation in these circles are normatively good. It is interesting to note, however, that subsequent writings by Ahmed, Harris, Braithwaite and Braithwaite (2001, 264) acknowledge that dysfunctional family environments do exist. These authors state that a history of family conflict can be communicated in reintegrative shaming processes and can be used to have controllability over the outcome.

This paper has shown how over the last one hundred years prisons have used punishment to try and change offender's behaviour. This paper has shown that custodial punishment alone does not help with positive reintegration of offenders after release because it is very difficult to change the patterns of behaviour if they are not directly addressed. This paper has also shown that the use and expansion of positive rehabilitative programs are needed in order to achieve positive reintegration.

However, the expansion of rehabilitative programs in Queensland has shown that a lack of effective resources, such as inexperienced program facilitators and programs that are not culturally specific, can also hinder the ability for an offender to reintegrate back into society. This paper has also shown how restorative justice processes can also be used to help with reintegration, through processes such as victim offender mediation. Maghan (2001) and Johnstone (2003) have shown how it is also important to educate the community attitudes towards offenders is an important aspect of social reintegration and reduce stigmatising.

Also discussed in this paper is the concept of emotional transformation through restorative justice, in order to help offenders realise the harm their behaviour has caused in order to facilitate positive reintegration. Braithwaites theory of reintegrative shaming also shows how positive shaming of offenders helps with reintegration by expressing social disapproval without stigmatising offenders. It is important to note that throughout this paper community involvement has been repeatedly expressed as an important aspect of helping successful reintegration of offenders.