Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Poco D. Kernsmith

Abstract

Sex offender registration and community notification (SORN) policies have been instituted across the country to manage individuals in the community who have been convicted of a sex offense. A social movement, made up of registrants and their family members, has sprung up across the country to address the resulting consequences that have ensued from these policies. State organizations are now working towards policy change for these families. This dissertation conducted in-depth interviews with leaders of 19 of these social movement organizations (SMO) to explore the organizations' structure and resources, and the strategies they use to achieve desired policy outcomes. Three social movement theories guided this investigation: resource mobilization, cultural cognitive approaches and political opportunities/processes. The findings were assessed using a process lens; which looked at the inputs, activities and outcomes of these organizations. The findings indicate that SORN SMOs share many similarities with other nascent SMOs, but are also characterized by a vital difference from other SMOs found in the research literature: a significant degree of stigma that is associated with this population. This stigma impacts both the organizations resources and the strategies they use to achieve the desired policy outcomes. Previously achieved and current policy outcomes are described and barriers to success are discussed. Implications for social work practice and policy are discussed, along with ideas for future research.

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