The aim of this study was to examine the factor structure and composite reliability of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) using a sample of 669 ex-prisoners identified in the National Survey of American Life. Six distinct factor models, with uncorrelated measurement error terms, were specified and tested using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Results indicated that the two-factor model consisting of positive and negative latent variables provided a better fit to the data than the alternative models. Moreover, only positive self-esteem was a significant predictor of recidivism. Composite reliability indicated that the two factors were measured with very good reliability. The results consequently provide additional support for a two-dimensional model of the RSES within offender populations. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.