Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Racial segregation in California prisons is a primary means of maintaining control and safety for inmates and correctional staff, yet little is understood about how racial segregation in prison impacts reentry of offenders into the community. The research question examined in this study focused on how living in the racial segregation of a California State prison, for 2 years or more might influence African-American, White, and Latino men's ability to interact with other races in a culturally diverse community upon release. Using Donald Clemmer's theory of prisonization as the foundation, the purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the experiences of men who lived in a racially segregated environment in prison regarding post-release reintegration. Specifically, their experiences with interacting in a culturally diverse environment after prison were examined to understand how behaviors and attitudes in prison were adapted by formerly incarcerated men in community life. A sample of 15 formerly incarcerated males were interviewed in response to posted fliers and community presentations. Collected data were analyzed between and among races for similar responses to the interview questions according to the Van Kaam method. Fourteen of the 15 participants reported that racial reintegration added challenges such as difficulty trusting and interacting with races other than their own post release, and additionally they stated they were grateful to return to a culturally diverse community. Positive social change stemming from this study include recommendations to prison leaders to introduce social skill building training into reintegration programming that supports former inmates to more effectively interact with diverse populations as they transition to community life.