Jenna Houston



Document Type



The U.S. system of retributive justice drives punitive measures, rather than interventions that could reduce recidivism. If prisoners’ needs are not met while serving time within the penal system, their chances of re-offending are greater (Baillargeon, 2010). The purpose of this study was to gather information about correctional programming from male ex-prisoners who have been involved in community re-entry services at Span Inc. in Boston, MA. Furthermore, this study also examined whether or not the programming contributed to positive coping skills during their incarceration as well as to their adaptation upon reentering the community. Data was collected by conducting ten interviews, using a semi-structured interview guide, at a community reentry program, in Boston, MA. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for themes. Results indicate that prisoners describe a wide variety of needs while incarcerated. The majority of participants reported that their needs were not addressed in prison through programming and services. All participants discussed that some form of programming helped them in adjusting to being separated from the community while incarcerated, as well as helping them to reenter into the community. Strong themes of ‘prisonized’, or institutionalized behaviors were apparent in the experiences described by participants. Of significance, given the high levels of motivation noted, if incarcerated individuals were to be provided with tools, resources, and empowerment, these individuals present themselves with the capacity to be successful in their rehabilitation and re-entry into the community. It is hoped this research will support and inform social work practice for programming as well as support and inform social work advocacy in correctional facilities.


Social Work

Thesis Comittee

Judith Willison (Thesis Director)

Kathleen Bailey

Jonghyun Lee

Arnaa Alcon

Copyright and Permissions

Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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Social Work Commons