Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Felicia Blacher-Wilson


Officials in the juvenile and public education systems are working to address the education gap for incarcerated juveniles and to implement turning point programs. The purpose of the phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences of previously incarcerated young adults and their perceptions of graduation success and long-term juvenile incarceration. Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory, Ryan and Deci's self-determination theory, Merton and Agnew's general strain theory, Homan's theory of exchange, and life course theory informed this study. Research questions were developed to understand the experiences and perceptions of young adults related to graduation success during or after juvenile incarceration. Convenience, purposive, and snowball sampling techniques were used to identify 10 young adults who experienced juvenile incarceration and completed high school with a high school diploma or GED. In-depth interviews were conducted to understand the participants' lived experiences and how they were able to overcome their challenges and succeed academically. A combination of a priori and open coding was used to support inductive analysis. Eight themes were identified: challenges of incarceration, support systems, overcoming patterns, turning points, juvenile justice staff, advice to other young offenders, experiences of incarceration, and graduation success. Recommendations include enhanced training for staff members in schools and facilities and conducting a follow-up study to assess the continued success of young adults in this study. Positive social change contributions include identifying ways incarcerated juveniles can be reengaged in schooling and continuing education to decrease recidivism and enhance productive citizenship.

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