Date of Conferral





Human Services


Andrew Garland-Forshee


In the United States, African American fathers are incarcerated at a disproportionate rate and have a poor prognosis of success. Although researchers have considered how crime, paternal abuse, poverty, and social disparities have affected African Americans, they have not adequately studied how formerly incarcerated African American fathers experience parenting. The purpose of this qualitative transcendental phenomenological study was to bridge this gap in knowledge by exploring the parenting experiences of formerly incarcerated African American fathers on parole. The research question focused on the parenting experiences of African American fathers obligated to mandatory supervision following an incarceration. A criterion-based sample of 9 African American fathers from the Midwestern region of the United States completed 2 in-depth interviews. Interviews were analyzed using phenomenological techniques, resulting in 9 central themes focused on social objectification, survival, change, the agency of fatherhood, and parent-child relations. Despite difficulties and challenges, the quality of the fathers' lives hinged on the quality of their relationship with their children. The findings and recommendations from this study may advance positive social change by stimulating and guiding the efforts of human service practitioners working to develop culturally relevant interventions, and raising the awareness of advocates working to influence legislators toward comprehensive policy reform. The application of this study's findings may provoke community members to strengthen their support for African American fathers returning to the community following incarceration.