Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Alida V. Merlo, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rosemary L. Gido, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Willard T. Austin, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

John A. Lewis, Ph.D.


Faced with high recidivism, prisoner reentry has become one of the most pressing issues in American corrections (Travis & Visher, 2005). According to the research on the public’s attitude toward prisoner reentry, the public’s negative attitude toward offenders is one of the major barriers to prisoners’ successful reintegration into society. To improve the public’s negative perceptions toward prisoners, it is useful to investigate the public’s attitudes. Especially, as prospective policy makers and practitioners, it is important to study college students’ attitudes (Mackey et al., 2006). Using the survey method, the current study investigated college students’ attitudes toward prisoners and prisoner reentry in one public university. In addition, based on previous research, academic level, gender, race, size of town, political party, major, religion, the religious value of forgiveness, victimization experience, and acquaintance with prisoners were examined as predictors for attitudes toward prisoners and prisoner reentry. Multiple regression analysis revealed that the religious value of forgiveness is the most powerful predictor in both attitudes toward prisoners and prisoner reentry. Religion, political party, and a close relationship with prisoners were also significant factors in attitudes toward prisoners and prisoner reentry. Educational programs aiming at improving college students’ negative attitudes toward prisoners can be developed based on these research findings.