Committee Chair

Hensley, Christopher

Committee Member

Garland, Tammy; Iles, Gale


Dept. of Criminal Justice and Legal Assistant Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


In an ever evolving society, the definition and acceptance of deviant behavior has broadened significantly. The taboos that were once cast out by society have begun to be accepted in society. Participation in tattooing is a prime example of behavior that has become more mainstream. This once detestable art form, which ranges from branding techniques of criminals to tattooing as fashion, has been commodified and accepted by certain groups in our society. However, the adoption of this practice by no means indicates that it is uniformly viewed as acceptable. Research has been conducted on this phenomenon; however, limited studies have addressed issues relating to criminal and deviant behavior. The objective of this research is to explore the difference in perceptions among law enforcement officers and college students regarding the relationship between tattoos and perceived criminality. In addition, this study examines whether religion plays a role in these perceptions and if participants view the media as a factor in making tattoos more acceptable within our society. Corollary questions address the role in which gender, race, and age have on these perceptions.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have made the project possible. I must thank God who has truly watched over this entire process. He has made this experience come together when I struggled personally to believe that I would ever finish. A special thank you goes out to everyone who agreed to serve as participants in my study (Bradley County Sheriff's Department, Collegedale Police Department, Hamilton County Sheriff's Department and The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga). I thank you because ultimately I would not have been able to realize my research had it not been for you. I also want to thank Dan and Cameka for helping me coordinate survey distribution to some of my subjects. Academically, I cannot express enough gratitude to the professors and professionals who have enabled me throughout this project. My deepest love is expressed to the fellow students of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Criminal Justice Graduate Department. I adore you all. You have served as a pure inspiration throughout my graduate school experience and have made me a better person. My sincerest appreciation is extended to Dr. Dale Alden, Dr. Shanna Ray and Dr. Lee Camp of Lipscomb University. Had it not been for your letters ofrecommendation I am unsure if I would have been given the opportunity to continue my education. Also, I would like to thank Dr. Vic Bumphus and Dr. Helen Eigenberg of The University ofTennesseeChattanooga. I do not think that you will ever know how grateful I am for your expertise. It was your teaching methods and techniques that pushed me to become more a more observant and sincere student. The academic challenges that you gave me have truly opened my eyes to the tools that I will need to continue as a professional and a graduate student. Lastly, I would like to thank Dr. Chris Hensley, Dr. Gale Iles, and Dr. Tammy Garland who served on my thesis committee. More specifically, I want to express appreciation to Dr. Garland who served as my thesis sponsor. It is because of her dedication to this process that I was able to stay on track and maintain the ideal of completing my goal. Dr. Garland understood me as a professional, a student and a person. It was this approach that allowed her to show both support and discipline that served as a guidance allowing me to better my work with every revision.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Tattooing--Social aspects; Impression formation (Psychology)


Criminology and Criminal Justice

Document Type

Masters theses




viii, 58 leaves



Call Number

LB2369.2 .C663 2007