Date of Conferral





Human Services


Barbara Benoliel


Offenders accepting contraband cell phones in secured facilities violate state corrections law, and the possession of these cell phones is a form of risk taking behavior. When offenders continue this risky behavior, it affects their decision making in other domains where they are challenging authorities; and may impact the length of their incarceration. This qualitative phenomenological study examined the lived experience of ex-offenders who had contraband cell phones in secured correctional facilities in order to better understand their reasons for taking risks with contraband cell phones. The theoretical foundation for this study was Trimpop's risk-homeostasis and risk-motivation theories that suggest an individual's behaviors adapt to negotiate between perceived risk and desired risk in order to achieve satisfaction. The research question explored beliefs and perceptions of ex-offenders who chose to accept the risk of using contraband cell phones during their time in secured facilities. Data were collected anonymously through recorded telephone interviews with 8 male adult ex-offenders and analyzed using thematic content analysis. Findings indicated participants felt empowered by possession of cell phones in prison, and it was an acceptable risk to stay connected to family out of concern for loved ones. The study contributes to social change by providing those justice system administrators, and prison managers responsible for prison cell phone policies with more detailed information about the motivations and perspectives of offenders in respect to using contraband cell phones while imprisoned in secured facilities.