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Differential Impact of Criminal Stigmatization on Male and Female Felons

NCJ Number
Sex Roles Volume: 6 Issue: 1 Dated: (1980) Pages: 1-8
D J Steffensmeier; J H Kramer
Date Published
8 pages
This report examines the extent to which male and female convicted felons are denied entry into conventional social and economic roles and examines the effects of subject's sex on stigmatization responses.
Two questionnaire forms were randomly administered to a sample of 189 college students and to a community sample selected from an eastern university city of 50,000 according to a random block sampling design of dwelling units. A five-item social distance scale was used to measure stigmatization responses toward a convicted felon. Major results were that (a) relatively high levels of stigmatization were expressed by subjects in both samples toward male and female felons; (b) female felons, however, were the recipients of less stigmatization than male felons, with the difference being larger in the community than in the student sample; and (c) sex of subject had little effect on the expression of stigmatization. It is suggested that the factors leading to less stigmatization of the female felon are naivete concerning the female offender (seeing women as being less capable of committing criminal offenses and as less responsible for their criminality), and greater fear of the male offender. Finally, both male and female felons are apt to experience widespread denial of entry into conventional social and economic roles. Tabular data and 18 references are given.


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