This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

From Prison to the Community: How Offending Women Manage Post Release




Montgomery, Tammy

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


Over the past few decades there has been an alarming spike in the number of women entering and exiting the penal system. The many barriers post offending women experience before incarceration are seemingly the driving force of high levels of recidivism. Post offending women tend to have high needs for gender specific substance treatment, insufficient physiological and psychological needs, limited strategies to deal with traumas, minimal educational assistance and job skills, inadequate housing, and a need for proper guidance in reconnecting to children and family (Opsal & Foley, 2013; Richie, 2001). Unfortunately, there is limited research on the negative impact these factors have during a woman’s transition from incarceration. The purpose of this study was to identify and understand factors that have increased incarceration amongst women and how these factors, such as substance use and employment skill deficits, impact recidivism and post release success. The methodology of the study consisted of a hermeneutic phenomenology approach that helped to understand factors that influenced the lived experiences of 10 post offending women. The literature reviewed revealed that there is a tremendous gap describing the intersection between women’s experiences with trauma, abuse, and repeated incarceration (Opsal & Foley, 2013). Findings from this qualitative study implicated a need for more support for post offending women during the first three years of their release. The study elucidated strong possible links between childhood trauma, substance abuse, and repeated incarceration among women.