Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Instr and Curr Leadership


Instruction and Curriculum

Committee Chair

Beverly E Cross

Committee Member

Brian L Wright

Committee Member

Mark W Conley

Committee Member

Sheila Flemming-Hunter


In the United States, the female prison population growth has far outpaced the male growth in the past quarter century. In 2010, over 200,000 females were behind bars, most of them being mothers and uneducated (Owen, 2010). Consequently, more than half of the states have been sued to provide women with services equal to those provided to male inmates such as vocational and postsecondary programs (Morash, Bynum, & Koons, 1998). In Ohio, research indicated that postsecondary education had a more positive effect on female offenders than their male counterparts (Shuler, 2002). Today, there is a new trend of college-educated female offenders serving time throughout the United States. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the shared experiences of three college-educated females who were incarcerated and mothers. The central research question was: what is influencing the trend toward the incarceration of college-educated females and what does it mean for the stability of American families? Data were collected by conducting interviews, life maps, and analytic memos with participants who had a minimum of two years of college-level coursework from a regionally accredited college or university, had been incarcerated for at least a year, had at least one child, and served their time at Milestone Correctional Center. Findings suggest that while there were negative aspects of their life before and during incarceration, the totality of those experiences gave positive meaning to their life trajectory, future, and family.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.