Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor or Mentor

Philip T. Yanos

Second Reader

Rebecca Weiss

Third Advisor

Zoe Berko


Research has shown that offenders perceive stigma and anticipate stigma once they are released from incarceration, especially regarding employment and housing (LeBel et al., 2012). However, there is limited information about offense type, mental health treatment, mental illness and race affect how formerly incarcerated persons perceive, anticipate and experience stigma. While research has shown that those with mental illness are more likely to have recidivate and sex offenders are viewed negatively by the public, there are gaps in understanding reasons why this occurs (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2017; Sample & Bray, 2006; Levinson et al., 2007; Rade, Desmarais & Mitchell, 2016). Stigma might serve as one potential explanation for these findings. This thesis sought to gain more knowledge from the formerly incarcerated persons perspective on multiple stigmatized identities and evaluate how they impact perceived, anticipated, and experienced stigma. Results showed that people who committed sexual offenses reported higher rates of perceived and anticipated stigma. However, offense type did not affect discrimination experiences. Participants with likely serious mental illness did not report significantly different anticipated or perceived stigma scores. Those who did received mental health while incarcerated reported more discrimination experiences due to past incarcerations and mental illness. There were no significant differences in white and people of color responses for perceived or anticipated stigma. Although, persons of color reported more discrimination in housing but not employment contexts. The results are one of the first studies to specifically evaluate offense-type related stigma from the formerly incarcerated persons’ perspective. Conclusions discuss policy recommendations and future research.



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