Sex Offenders, Stigma, and Social Control (Critical Issues in Crime and Society) (Hardcover)
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The 1990s witnessed a flurry of legislative initiatives—most notably, “Megan’s Law”—designed to control a population of sex offenders (child abusers) widely reviled as sick, evil, and incurable. In Sex Offenders, Stigma, and Social Control, Diana Rickard provides the reader with an in-depth view of six such men, exploring how they manage to cope with their highly stigmatized role as social outcasts. The six men discussed in the book are typical convicted sex offenders—neither serial pedophiles nor individuals convicted of the type of brutal act that looms large in public perceptions about sex crimes. Sex Offenders, Stigma, and Social Control explores how these individuals, who have been cast as social pariahs, construct their sense of self. How does being labeled in this way and controlled by measures such as Megan’s Law affect one’s identity and sense of social being? Unlike traditional criminological and psychological studies of this population, this book frames their experiences in concepts of both deviance and identity, asking how men so highly stigmatized cope with the most extreme form of social marginality. Placing their stories within the context of the current culture of mass incarceration and zero-tolerance, Rickard provides a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between public policy and lived experience, as well as an understanding of the social challenges faced by this population, whose re-integration into society is far from simple or assured. Sex Offenders, Stigma, and Social Control makes a significant contribution to our understanding of sex offenders, offering a unique window into how individuals make meaning out of their experiences and present a viable—not monstrous—social self to themselves and others.
About the Author
DIANA RICKARD is an assistant professor in the criminal justice program at Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York.
"A timely and important book … Readers unfamiliar with the functions and consequences of sex offender registration and community notification laws will find an engaging, easy-to-read discussion of such policies. Scholars familiar with sex offender registration and community notification will likewise find value here – value that is centered on the focus of what creates the negative outcomes for individuals, and not just the collateral consequences."
— Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books
“[Sex Offenders, Stigma, and Social Control] may be very useful for other scholars exploring identity construction and integration as well as the ways people make sense, narrate, and respond to stigma in the course of their lives… It does provide an intriguing and nuanced portrait of the ways such dynamics play out in relation to one of the most controversial and heavily stigmatized social locations in contemporary society.”
— Symbolic Interaction
"Rickard’s work is an important one on a subject that has not adequately been studied, namely the status of sex offenders and the present ‘moral panic.’ Clear, organized, and well-researched, Sex Offenders, Stigma, and Social Control is both distinctive and brave."
— Lynn Chancer
"Draws on interviews in a study of six men convicted of a sexual offense against a minor; focuses on their self-perceptions and experience of social stigma and isolation after incarceration or lesser sanction."