Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Counselor Education and Supervision


Shelley Jackson


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of Spanish-speaking men in the United States with limited English proficiency following their release from prison. The study specifically examined the experiences of these men in their efforts to access health care treatment, housing, education, and employment in Central Pennsylvania. An empirical, phenomenological research design was employed that used self-stigma, critical race, and self-determination theories for in-depth interviews with 8 men who spent 5 to 24 years in prison. A tiered coding method was used to generate 6 interconnected themes that tell the story of these men's lives: (1) a genuine desire to change (2) a lack of effective communication, (3) a sense of dependency on others, (4) a persistent lack of social support, (5) a perception of resentencing by society, and (6) a perception of entrapment with little possibility to get out. This study promotes positive social change by demonstrating a need for more effective transitional programs for this demographic and additional need for counselor training programs to actively recruit and train more Spanish-speaking counselors for work with this population. The results can be used by counselors and mental health providers to develop programs that would support families such as job training and second language instruction within correctional facilities. Implementing these recommendations is expected to reduce crime and facilitate the healthy integration of this population into the mainstream society post incarceration.