Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Gregory Koehle


Information related to the experiences of sex offenders required to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2006 is predominantly based on quantitative data, and the majority of information relates to the factors that contribute to sexual offenses, recidivism rates, and public opinion of the sex offender registry. There is a lack of research on the lived experience of sex offenders who are required to register, specifically those in rural Pennsylvania. Research is also lacking on how sex offenders and the professionals with whom they interact perceive the registry. Therefore, the purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the perspective of those who are most familiar with the registry: sex offenders, law enforcement officers, and sex offender therapists. The theoretical framework was Goffman’s social construction theory. Semi-structured, in person interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of 10 individuals including registered sex offenders in rural Pennsylvania, local law enforcement officers, and therapists who offer rehabilitative services to registered sex offenders. Data were analyzed using Moustakas’s approach to phenomenological analysis to identify emerging themes. The data resulted in 8 emerging themes: employment challenges, stigmatization by society, social isolation, psychological and emotional burdens, the importance of rehabilitation, broken relationships, the importance of a support system, and political powerlessness. Research about the lived experience of sex offenders required to register under SORNA can contribute to positive social change by increasing policy makers’ understanding of the factors that facilitate and hinder offenders’ reintegration into society.