The Stain of a Criminal Label: Post-Release Stigmatization and its Effects on Reintegration and Recidivism Among Ex-Offenders
The successful reintegration of ex-offenders into the community is a primary factor in reducing recidivism and protecting the public. However, successful reintegration is often hard to come by. Prior research has examined the ways in which the stigmatic labelling of ex-offenders disrupts their successful re-entry into the community. Further, studies have shown that the stigmatic labelling of ex-offenders by the community plays a prominent role in offender recidivism. The present study examines this prior research and explores how gender, age, race/ethnicity, and class determine the extent of stigmatization that offenders experience. I conclude that some marginalized groups, such as women, Blacks, young offenders, and those from working class backgrounds tend to be more negatively impacted by stigmatic labelling. Therefore, these marginalized groups are more at risk of becoming reincarcerated or facing further legal sanctions. It is suggested that to combat recidivism, social programs should be prioritized to assist ex-offenders in coping with stigmatization. Furthermore, to combat the unequal distribution of stigmatic labelling on marginalized groups, specialized community programs should be made available to address the unique needs of these populations. In addition, community-based sanctions should be implemented whenever appropriate to help combat the effects of stigmatic labelling imposed on ex-offenders upon re-entry. Future research directions are also discussed.