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Journal of the Western Society of Criminology: Two Articles of Importance

March 2012:

Within Journal of the Western Society of Criminology, Volume 13, Issue 2, August 2012, are two sections of special importance:

1) Sex Offender Myths in Print Media: Separating Fact from Fiction in U.S. Newspapers by Marcus A. Galeste, Henry F. Fradella, and Brenda Vogel
Abstract: The media sometimes present certain myths related to sex offenders that run contrary to the data supported by empirical research, such as identifying sex offenders as being compulsive, homogenous, specialists, and incapable of benefiting from treatment. These myths affect the public’s overall perception of sex offenders and their crimes, which, in turn, can influence public policy.

The literature suggests that television news presents several myths about sex crimes and sex offenders; however, research on whether the print media perpetuate these myths is limited. This exploratory study seeks to begin filling this gap in the literature by examining the presentation of sex offender myths in newspaper articles.

Employing content analysis, this study evaluated a sample of 334 articles published in 2009 in newspapers across the United States for the presence of sex offender myths. Sex offender myths were not significantly related to the type of article, region of publication, victim age or gender, or the type of offense. Myths were, however, significantly associated with articles reporting on various types of sex offender policies, often in a manner which runs contrary to empirical research. The legal and policy implications of these findings are explored.

2) Incarcerated Sex Offenders’ Perceptions of Family Relationships: Previous Experiences and Future Expectations by Richard Tewksbury and David P. Connor
Abstract: Utilizing semi-structured interviews with 24 inmates in one medium security prison, this study examines how incarcerated sex offenders approaching release perceive previous experiences with and future expectations for their families. Observed characteristics of family associations among these inmates, both prior and subsequent to their labeling as sex offenders, will help identify how such public identification may impact social support from loved ones that is often necessary for successful community reintegration.

Findings reveal that incarcerated sex offenders held both positive and negative outlooks toward their families before and after their labeling. Almost without exception, sex offenders reporting positive family experiences prior to their public identification described relationships that featured support, encouragement, and intimacy. However, those detailing negative family experiences discussed traumatic situations riddled with separation, violence, and sexual abuse.

The majority of sex offenders anticipating positive family experiences upon release described personal acceptance, employment opportunities, and housing options. Most of these inmates, however, also possessed negative expectations for their families, including relationships characterized by rejection and doubt. Limitations and directions for future sex offender research are discussed.

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