Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Daphne Pedersen


Millions of people in the United States are banned from basic civil rights including participation in voting, jury duty, applying for government assistance, and owning a firearm because they have had a felony conviction. There is limited research on attitudes regarding the restoration of civil rights to felons. This thesis uses Goffman’s theory of stigma to examine whether public support for the restoration of rights to felons is associated with knowledge of felony convictions and whether an individual knows someone with a felony conviction. This study used an online survey of college undergraduates (N = 362) to explore two hypotheses pertaining to support for restoration of civil rights. Results indicated that there was more support for the restoration of civil rights to nonviolent felons than for violent felons, and knowing someone with a felony conviction was positively associated with support for the restoration of civil rights to nonviolent offenders. Restoration of civil rights could help lower recidivism rates by allowing felons to become fully accepted back into society.