Honors Theses


Jamie L. Small and Anya Galli Robertson


Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work

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Honors Thesis


Historically, the criminal justice system has been primarily composed of men; this lack of diversity led services to see offenders as an almost genderless category. The demographics of the criminal justice system has greatly changed, however. In 1990 there were 43,845 women under the jurisdiction of state and correctional authorities in the US (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1995). As mass incarceration took hold in the United States, this population more than doubled; by 2017 the number of incarcerated women grew to 111, 360 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2019). Mass incarceration has led to an increase in rehabilitative programs and as the gender demographics of the criminal justice system changes, social services have been tasked with addressing the needs of returning citizens with an increasing focus on gender. Past research has largely focused on gender specific needs within the criminal justice system itself. This project explores perceptions of gender in reentry among social service workers, which will demonstrate how gender is conceptualized and reproduced within these services. I conducted 18 interviews with social service workers to ask about their perceptions on gender in reentry and how their organizations reproduce gendered ideologies. Social service workers often reported diverse gender needs in terms of external barriers such as trauma, community perceptions, social support, and parenting responsibilities. These findings reveal gender reproduction and interactions within the context of reentry and analyze how gender identity intersects with an “ex-offender” status.

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Undergraduate research