Alaska city tries new tack on shoplifting woes: counseling

Alaska's capital city is trying a new approach to deal with its shoplifting problem: counseling.

The move follows legislative changes that restricted the use of jail time as a punishment and questions about the effectiveness of jail time as a deterrent.

The program is a partnership between the city law department and behavioral health and support organizations that will focus on repeat offenders.

The city plans to enter into agreements with willing participants to defer prosecution or sentencing pending completion of specific steps. Those include setting and achieving self-identified goals and a shoplifting treatment program.

Participants also will have to pay restitution.

Susanne DiPietro, with the Alaska Judicial Council, says she was not aware of other programs like this one that focused on shoplifters.