Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Sex offenders-Legal status, laws, etc-United States, Sex offenders-Government policy-United States, Information storage and retrieval systems-Criminal justice, Administration of-United States, Criminal records-United States, Psychodynamic psychotherapy, Sex offender, Megan's Law, Legal rhetoric, Collective identity, Heteropatriarchy, Postmodern, Klein, Melanie, Ego defenses


This theoretical thesis is a multilayered study that interrogates Sex Offender Registration and Notification (SORN) policies from many angles: 1) a deconstruction of the legislation itself (logistics, stipulations, restrictions and enforcement); 2) the impact such policies have on individuals who are required to register; 3) the impact on communities in creating public spaces that are increasingly policed and thereby adding to the expansion of the prison industrial complex; 4) the implications and effectiveness sex offender registries (SORs) have in preventing sexually predatory behavior and acts of sexual violence; and 5) the implicit values and beliefs underlying hegemonic U.S. discourse surrounding sexual violence and abuse. By constructing what and who gets deemed innocent and who and what gets marked as deviant and dangerous, SORN legislation consequently strengthens dominant paradigms of White, upper/middle class notions of motherhood, childhood and acceptable sexuality by making meaning of erotic innocence and constructing the "predator". Conducting a critical discourse analysis (CDA) of how SORN policies are written, the historical context for the regulation of sexual practices, and the intended and unintended consequences of enforcing such policies, will elucidate how legislation is used to validate dominant constructions of race, gender, sexuality, and innocence. By reifying signifiers for such constructions and bolstering widespread acceptance of these categories as objective "truths", SORN regulations function to protect White heteropatriarchy, capitalism and the prison industrial complex. Postmodern theory and psychodynamic concepts of ego defenses and object relations will be discussed in the context of SORN policies and Collective Identity.




x, 128 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 119-128)

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