Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Dawn Cecil, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Mateus Rennó Santos, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jessica Grosholz, Ph.D.


Incarceration, Latin America, Panama, Public Opinion, Punitive Attitudes


The purpose of this study is to explore and understand the frameworks in which prisons and incarcerated persons are discussed amongst commenters under YouTube videos displaying media on Panamanian prisons. The study incorporates a mixed methods approach by conducting a general content analysis of YouTuber comments to address themes within the discussion. Additionally, these themes were quantified and modeled using predictive variables collected such as number of comment likes, number of comment dislikes, and number of comment replies, alias type (screen name or name-like), presence of profile picture, and profile picture type. The themes found were 1) punitive, 2) justifying 3) neutral 4) sympathetic 5) rehabilitative. The themes had relatively similar distributions with the exception of rehabilitative which had the least prevalence of initial postings and overall engagement through likes and replies. Males were more likely to engage within the discussion and more likely to use punitive themes while less likely to be sympathetic relative to females. Users with a screen name were more likely to use sympathetic themes rather than exhibit aggressive or punitive commentary. The findings suggest commenters legitimize punitive ideals while holding a loss of faith in rehabilitation. This finding is contrary to the Panamanian constitution which supports rehabilitative efforts within the prison system. Additionally, the use of anonymity regarding the sympathetic theme, reveals that showing sympathy towards incarcerated persons may be less socially acceptable.