Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Kelly E. Moore

Committee Members

Meredith Ginley, Stacey Williams, Nicole Prior


A sizeable portion of the United States (U.S.) population works within the criminal legal system, and individuals who have legal involvement are a highly stigmatized population. Research suggests working with stigmatized populations can result in the transfer of stigma to professionals, referred to as associative stigma. While qualitative studies indicate there are negative perceptions related to working in criminal legal settings, there is no quantitative research on criminal legal staff’s experience with associative stigma and how it impacts job-related factors. The purpose of this study was to 1) examine the psychometrics of an adapted measure to quantitatively assess associative stigma among criminal legal staff, 2) explore individual differences in staff’s associative stigma, and 3) investigate associative stigma’s relationship with influential job factors. An online sample of criminal legal staff in the U.S. (n=198) were recruited to complete an adapted version of the Clinician Associative Stigma Scale (Yanos et al., 2017) along with measures of demographics, stigmatizing attitudes toward justice-involved people, and job-related factors (e.g., orientation toward punishment, burnout). An exploratory factor analysis identified two factors in the adapted-CASS named “negative stereotypes of working in criminal legal settings” and “discomfort with disclosure.” Regarding individual differences in associative stigma, those who were younger, worked fewer years with justice-involved individuals, and worked in probation agencies reported experiencing more negative stereotypes of working in criminal legal settings. Staff who had daily (as opposed to less frequent) contact with justice-involved individuals reported more discomfort with disclosure. Regarding associative stigma’s impact on job-related factors, experiences with negative stereotypes of working in criminal legal settings and discomfort with disclosure were related to greater emotional exhaustion. Further, as staff endorsed more discomfort with disclosure, they indicated greater punitive orientation, turnover intention, plans to leave their jobs, and less job satisfaction. Overall, results suggest that associative stigma has a negative impact on job-related factors among criminal legal staff. Therefore, examining ways to support staff and reduce associative stigma’s impact may address some of the challenges of working in the criminal legal system.

Document Type

Dissertation - embargo


Copyright by the authors.

Available for download on Wednesday, January 15, 2025