Female Prisoner Attitudes Toward Sex Offenders (F-PATSO): A Preliminary Comparison Using the Community Attitudes Toward Sex Offenders(CATSO-R) Scale

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Student Presentation

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Andy Giacomazzi


The social phenomenon of mass incarceration has opened the door to a full-range of perplexing issues that continue to puzzle researchers and policy makers. One obdurate social problem is sexual offending, which seems immune to the “evolving standards of decency” ideas espoused by the U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, sex offenses are a ubiquitous fact of life – directly or indirectly – for many people in the United States. Not even the 2003 presidential mandate called the Prison Rape Elimination Act, has positively affected the problem of sexual victimization in prison. In this preliminary study, over one hundred, female state prisoners were surveyed using the CATSO-R (Community Attitudes Toward Sex Offender) scale to determine if they hold stereotypical and misconceived attitudes about sex offenders. The findings indicate that female prisoners, a majority of whom have been victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault, do NOT have stereotypical attitudes; instead, they express attitudes similar to professionals, who work with sex offenders and/or their victims. The purpose of this research is to improve prison policies dealing with sexual victimization by revealing a piece of the prison rape and prison violence puzzle, which may lay hidden in the attitudes of men and women held captive in U.S. prisons.

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