Term of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Science, Criminal Justice and Criminology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology

Committee Chair

Kristin Lloyd

Committee Member 1

Caitlyn Brady (Co-Chair)

Committee Member 2

Kristina Thompson


The criminal offender label is enduring and comes with significant real-world consequences. While there is a wealth of literature on offender rehabilitation, less emphasis has been placed on the varying ways that individuals define this concept. The goal of this study is to understand how variations in both punitiveness and rehabilitative definitions affect general beliefs about desistance from crime. Additionally, belief in redeemability is examined as a moderator of this relationship. Using data from an anonymous, national-level, opt-in survey collected through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) platform, I test three hypotheses using logistic regression. Results indicate that while increased punitiveness is not a significant predictor of belief in desistance signals, certain rehabilitative definitions are positively and significantly associated with belief in desistance signals. Redeemability does not moderate this relationship. Individuals are more likely to believe in desistance signals if an offender’s rehabilitation consists of certain actions. Thus, certain rehabilitative acts increase the likelihood of individuals removing the criminal label from former offenders, which holds important policy implications.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


Thesis_Final COGS Revisions.pdf (615 kB)
COGS comments have been fully addressed