Lawrence Sherman and Heather Strang - Restorative justice and regulatory sciences: the pioneering role of RegNet


After the 1989 publication of Braithwaite’s Crime, Shame and Reintegration coincided with New Zealand’s revision of its youth justice modelled on traditional Maori practices, the ANU launched a pioneering program of testing restorative justice with randomized controlled trials. In what remains the largest single research project in the history of Australian Criminology, the four Canberra Reintegrative Shaming Experiments (RISE) demonstrated both that such experiments were possible, and that restorative justice offered major benefits for victims and crime reduction under specified conditions.

That evidence led the UK Treasury to invest £5 million in eight similar tests in England, also led by the ANU Centre for Restorative Justice. A further UK effort to link this idea to prosecutorial decisions became the “one that got away” and a symbolic example of prosecutorial resistance to restorative practices. Yet both theory and practice in restorative justice has been substantially expanded by the RegNet programme, now approaching its twentieth Anniversary on 1 July 2015. The Campbell Collaboration Systematic Review of the effects of Restorative Justice Conferences on victims and offenders shows a clear pattern of policy benefits, while the theories of reintegrative shaming and interaction ritual chains have acquired far greater specification from the experimental results. This seminar summarizes these results and their impact, as well as the future plans for the research programme.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet