Shoplifting Offenders Online Programs
When it comes to the Court’s Reputation, Offenders & Community…
Taking the Time to Research a Program is a MUST!
Providers with “new” programs for shoplifting offenders are popping up all over the place, likely in response to the current economic climate and the increase in shoplifting being reported by retailers. Unfortunately, too many of these providers fall short in terms of client and offender support services, compliance rates and effectiveness claims – leaving the courts underserved, the offenders open to repeat offenses and the community at risk.
A major contributor to these “pop-up” programs is the internet which makes it easy for companies, with little or no experience and few if any qualifications, to create websites where information has simply been “lifted” from a variety of other sources – with or without the consent or permission of those sources. In fact, several of these new programs have simply “copied and pasted” information from others to create their “new” programs. More often than not, the information is “lifted” from the non-profit National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) – either from the NASP website, one of the NASP programs or a NASP research report – in clear violation of U.S. Copyright Laws. Such was the case with one long time, seemingly reputable, drug and alcohol program provider.
Another program, while we did not find that its content was plagiarized, uses discriminatory language and inappropriate – if not offensive – scenarios to make its point. One program boasts “endorsements” and “accreditation” from seemingly separate and objective websites yet the sites are not accreditation authorities at all. In fact, they are simply the same company using these other websites – which they themselves created – to endorse and accredit their own programs!
The irony of this is that these program providers are stealing the material they need to create a program to teach shoplifters not to steal!
But the most important take-away here is the need for the court system to ensure that any alternative sentencing program they utilize – whether for shoplifting or any other offense – successfully accomplishes the long-standing goals of the court system; to reduce recidivism, reduce court appearances and effectively serve the best interests of the community. Low-cost, stripped down programs are unlikely to meet these goals. Yes, corporate America is always seeking the next thing that is “faster, cheaper, better.” However, the fact is that when it comes to truly effective crime prevention, faster and cheaper is rarely better.
To protect the court, the offenders and the community, the court officers making these program decisions must make it a priority to thoroughly research providers, to carefully evaluate the programs they offer and to verify the claims they make.
When Evaluating A Program Make Sure The Provider… …Is Not Violating any U.S. Copyright Laws Subjecting your Court to Potential Litigation
ASK: Is the program original material? If not, what knowledge base and
sources of information were used to develop it? …Offers a Program that is Research-based to Ensure Effectiveness.
ASK: What research have they conducted? With how many offenders? Over
how many years? On what do they base their expertise? A Google-search on “shoplifting” or “shoplifters” does not qualify as research, even today. …Is Not Making False Claims About their Success Rate or their Program being “Evidence-Based.”
ASK: What evidence can they show that their programs are truly effective? How many recidivism studies do they have to back their claims? Valid recidivism studies are conducted by the courts themselves and tracked over time. Self-studies conducted by the company itself – the one selling the program – are not a valid measure of success in preventing the next offense.
…Can Provide Valid and Credible References. Offering a program over the internet has empowered many to market themselves as “national” providers – implying that their program is well-established and utilized by courts throughout the country – without having any real track record.
ASK: Can they provide a list of references from court personnel in various counties and states? If so, check the references; reach out to your peers and get honest feedback on effectiveness.
Finally, ASK For A Sample Program And Invest The Time To Go Through It And See Exactly What The Offenders Will Be Learning.