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Criminal Justice


Tony Gaskew


Although African Americans make up most of the habitual offender population in Louisiana state prisons, there is a dearth of information about the reentry challenges of formerly incarcerated African American men in Louisiana and how they perceive those challenges to impact their reentry into the community after imprisonment. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological research study was to better understand how formerly incarcerated African American men in Louisiana perceive their challenges when they transition back into their communities and how they make sense of those challenges in relation to recidivism. The theoretical framework for the study was critical race theory. Data were collected through semistructured interviews with 10 formerly incarcerated African American adult men from southern Louisiana. Analysis of the data show that the participants perceive race, stigma, and lack of support to exacerbate their reentry challenges. For RQ1, 3 major themes emerged: feelings of restricted opportunities (subthemes: stigma, employment, and housing), feelings of restricted opportunities because of race, and relationships. For RQ2, 4 major themes emerged from the study: community lacks opportunities, racial discrimination, community lacks improvement (subthemes: community does not support youth and people in the community are also struggling) and supporting reentry (subthemes: self-support and social support). Understanding and addressing the phenomenon under study can assist criminal justice officials, policymakers, and other stakeholders to generate policies, laws, and practices that address and meet the needs of formerly incarcerated African American men and communities of people of color.