Date of Award

Spring 5-28-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department/Program

Forensic Psychology

Language

English

First Advisor

Mark Fondacaro

Second Reader

Kelly McWilliams

Third Advisor

Charles Stone

Abstract

The current study examined the factors that influence the societal dehumanization of offenders, belief in offender redeemability, and support for resource allocation and offender re- enfranchisement. Specifically, the study investigated how prison sentence length influences public opinion on these measures. Two hundred and twenty-two individuals participated in this study and were randomly assigned to one of two conditions involving their responses to a vignette depicting an offender having served either five or 15 years. The results revealed that the length of the offender’s prison sentence did not impact participants’ dehumanization of offenders, belief in their redeemability, or support for reentry services. Separately, the study also examined the role of participants’ demographic characteristics. Results indicated that working in law enforcement or human services and having children in the home impacted the participant’s level of offender dehumanization, belief in offender redeemability, and support for re-entry services. Several demographic characteristics including: age, marital status, education, income, and sexual orientation influenced only support for reentry services. The findings of the current study indicate that societal dehumanization and restriction of re-entry services is more strongly related to the demographic background of the public than to the characteristics of the offender.

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