Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ)


Criminology & Criminal Justice

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Hallett

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Wesely

Third Advisor

Dr. Alicia Sitren

Department Chair

Dr. Brenda Vose

College Dean

Dr. Kaveri Subrahmanyam


Registered sex offenders (RSOs) experience extreme stigmatization and monitoring even after they are released from incarceration. This is due, in part, to sex offender registries which perpetuate high levels of stigma and can contribute to false narratives about reoffending, victimization, and the homogeneity of sex offenders. As a result of societal level stigma, RSOs often struggle to locate and maintain employment, secure suitable housing, and establish positive, prosocial relationships. This current study utilized a qualitative approach using in-depth interviews with eight RSOs to explore how offenders experience and navigate this stigma during reentry. Findings support the notion that RSOs experience and anticipate high levels of stigma which contributes to a self-perception of the sex offender status as a master label for the offender himself. Participants also illuminated stigma-management techniques of preventative telling and withdrawal as ways of coping with this and identified experiences that helped them adapt to their marginalization.