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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Enobong Branch

Second Advisor

Wenona Rymond-Richmond

Subject Categories

Criminology | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Sociology | Sociology of Culture | Work, Economy and Organizations


Over 600,000 people are released from prisons in the United States each year and estimates suggest that around 5 million living people have been to prison at some point in their lives. To the extent that the prison has become an increasingly important social institution, so has the process of prisoner reentry. As such, researchers have examined numerous barriers to reintegration – such as criminal records, low formal educational attainment, and employment gaps – that inhibit post-imprisonment success. This body of research, however, has neglected to provide an analysis of the complex and overlapping field-level forces that structure reentry systems. This dissertation seeks to expand on established research by exploring both the ideological forces and structural barriers existing in the reentry field under examination. In a series of papers, I make three interconnected arguments; 1) Reentry can be conceptualized as a game of claims-making as various social actors contend with hierarchies and vie for resources and opportunities. 2) Cultural ideas – such as those steeped in racial colorblindness and meritocracy – were both pervasive and reinforced within the reentry field. 3) Accumulated institutional experiences and dominant cultural ideas combine to produce what I call “criminalized individualism” in the lives and discourses of formerly incarcerated people; reflecting particular understandings of post-imprisonment social mobility.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.