Alternative Title

Framing Effects on Advocacy for Prisoners' Human Rights


In 2003, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) established a commission to study the phenomenon of prison rape and recommend standards to be considered by the Attorney General, as well as establishing an initial set of standards and allotted funding, to mitigate prison rape. However, PREA falls substantially short of "eliminating" prison rape due to a variety of weaknesses within the legislation (National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape 2012). Not only is there a lack of legislation and activism to secure protections for the human rights of prisoners, there is also a lack of research on the effectiveness of these advocacy methods. This means the organizations responsible for the little amount of activism being done on this front have little way of knowing whether their methods are having any effect, positive or negative. This study addresses this lack in research on the efficacy of advocacy methods for prisoners by addressing the question: Under what conditions will the public recognize prisoner-to-prisoner rape as a human rights violation and be willing to participate in a campaign to end the practice? A survey of 478 respondents from across the United States, recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk and recorded using Qualtrics, was conducted and analyzed using primarily ordered logistic regression. Results reveal that a personal story frame of a prisoner had a significant effect on consensus mobilization for the necessity of protecting prisoners’ human rights. Neither a personal story frame nor a humanizing language frame had an impact on mobilization for recognizing rape in general as a human rights violation, mainly because most respondents already strongly agreed with this statement. Both humanizing language and personal story frames significantly impacted action mobilization in the form of signing an online petition to end rape in prisons. These results can be used by human advocacy groups to design more effective advocacy strategies for advocating for the human rights of prisoners.


Leiby, Michele

Second Advisor

Krain, Matthew


Political Science


Comparative Politics


advocacy, frames, framing, framing effects, humanizing, humanizing language, humanizing frame, personal story, personal story frame, prisoners, human rights, prisoners' human rights, rape, sexual violence in prison, prisoners advocacy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Rowan G. LaFramboise