How Education Reduces Recidivism By Caroline Kochman, Executive Director, National Assocation for Shoplifting Prevention
Even with all the advances in retail security measures, shoplifting remains one of the most prevalent crimes in the U.S., averaging about 550,000 incidents and $35 million in losses, each day.
Educating shoplifters continues to be the most effective way to reduce recidivism because education programs address the “root causes” of shoplifting and give participants an understanding about the problem as it relates to society and themselves. Using “offense-specific" shoplifter education programs for every offender – both adult and juvenile – means they will be five to ten times less likely to repeat the offense.
Education programs like those NASP offers through the CAP program teach shoplifters about the law and its consequences, the new security technology used in stores to detect shoplifters, how much they risk for a small reward and how shoplifting can become addictive. It also helps offenders understand how shoplifting affects the lives of real people (not just stores). This proven methodology ensured a very low petty shoplifting recidivism rate of just 3% across a seven-year period, which were recently highlighted in a news release from Turning Point Justice and NASP.
Education helps shoplifters recognize the personal hardships they add to their life by shoplifting and understand that simply by deciding never to shoplift again, they can eliminate many, if not all, of these hardships. According to the offenders, such hardships include:
• Humiliation and embarrassment
• The guilt and shame of having to face the court
• Being treated as a criminal
• Fear of going to jail
• Paying legal fees
• Having a criminal record
• Fear that others will find out
• Loss of trust by parents, family or friends
• Loss of self-respect
• Depression … sleepless nights
• Guilt about hurting others
• Worry about what the judge will do if I get caught again
Education provides additional support to the traditional sanctions that are usually administered by the court. While a fine, community service and other sanctions help offenders pay back their debt to society, they don’t provide the individual support and understanding needed to get to the root of the problem. Shoplifters need to be made aware of their own personal and social pressures that can trigger a shoplifting incident. It is when shoplifters begin to understand that they are “losing something” rather than “gaining something” that the education process starts to take hold.