Shi, L., Silver, J. R., & Hickert, A. (In press.) Conceptualizing and measuring public stigma towards people with prison records. Criminal Justice and Behavior.
Public stigma towards people with prison records hinders reentry initiatives. Although it is widely discussed in corrections, its measurement has been study-specific. Based on existing literature, we develop and test a multidimensional public stigma scale. We examine the factor structure and dimensionality of the scale using a Qualtrics Panel sample of U.S. adults (N = 1,216) and exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, which show that 17 of the 20 proposed scale items produce a four-factor structure, including danger/distrust, dehumanization, dispositional crime attributions, and social/emotional distance. We assess construct validity by testing the relationship between public stigma and theoretical antecedents and expected support for policy outcomes. Results show that public stigma is positively related to belief in evil and racial resentment and negatively related to personal and vicarious arrest experiences; it is also positively related to support for disenfranchisement and punitive policies and negatively related to support for rehabilitative policies.