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NCJ Number: 230033 Find in a Library
Title: Normalization and Legitimation: Modeling Stigmatizing Attitudes Toward Ex-Offenders
Journal: Criminology  Volume:48  Issue:1  Dated:February 2010  Pages:27-56
Author(s): Paul J. Hirschfield; Alex R. Piquero
Date Published: February 2010
Page Count: 30
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This first large-scale multivariate analysis of public attitudes toward ex-offenders draws on a large, ethnically diverse sample of residents from four States in separate regions of the country.
Abstract: The study found that exposure to and interaction with ex-offenders softened respondents' views of ex-offenders in general as being dangerous and dishonest. This supports the normalization hypothesis, which theorizes that individuals who have frequent social contact with ex-offenders are less likely to view them as dangerous and untrustworthy. The study also found that respondents' level of trust in the courts to deliver just decisions and appropriate sentences affected their attitudes toward ex-offenders. Respondents who believed the courts are subject to errors in judgment and are too harsh in their sentencing were less likely to have negative views of ex-offenders; whereas, respondents who believed the courts are fair or too lenient in their sentencing were more likely to have negative views of ex-offenders. This supports the legitimation hypothesis, which theorizes that the level of legitimacy attributed to criminal justice agencies transfers to how one views ex-offenders. As expected, non-Hispanic Whites, conservatives, and southern residents held more negative views of ex-offenders. The authors note that the past several decades have seen increased certainty and severity of incarceration, increased economic and social exclusion after incarceration, and related reentry problems. They advise that it is more productive to develop ways for the community to be more aware of the capacities and intentions of ex-offenders to make positive contributions to society. Data were obtained from 2,282 individuals 18 years old and over through a random-digit telephone survey in Illinois, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Washington State. The independent variable measured attitudes toward ex-offenders; and independent variables measured exposure to ex-offenders, attitudes toward police and the legal system, demographic factors, relevant social values, and anxiety/fear of criminal victimization. 2 tables and 87 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Barriers to ex-offender employment; Ex-offenders; Illinois; Labeling theory; Louisiana; Pennsylvania; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Public Opinion of Crime; Public Opinion of the Courts; Racial discrimination; Reentry; Washington
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