Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Melanye Smith


AbstractOver the years, there has been an ongoing debate regarding the purpose or goal of correctional institutions. Due to public outcry for harsher sentences due to the appearance of a light sentences imposed on those convicted of crimes, the goal of punishment has often won. Many offenders enter correctional institutions with low academic skills and low employability. Correctional education programs can be viewed as a form of rehabilitation that can assist with the reentry of formerly incarcerated individuals. Correctional education can help reduce recidivism and increase the employability of ex-offenders as they reintegrate. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to examine correctional education programs through the lived experiences of five formerly incarcerated African American men who participated in a correctional education program. NVivo software was used to aid in the analysis of the data gathered during the interviews. Using thematic coding, I was able to categories commonalities. Education, motivation, supportive relationships, and employment were the four themes emerged as reasons supporting successful community reintegration of ex-offenders. Polarities of democracy was the theoretical framework used in this study because its design was intended as a coalescing standard to strategize, steer, and assess democratic social change endeavors aimed to develop healthy, viable, and just communities. The findings of this study have the potential to powerfully contribute to positive social change. The study results will get interested parties involved in more meaningful correctional strategies and reintegration efforts to meet the needs of formerly incarcerated African American men. Thus, better treatment effects can assist in reducing recidivism.