Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jill D. Stinson

Committee Members

Meredith K. Ginley, Kelly E. Moore, Eric W. Sellers


Returning citizens face a host of barriers when attempting to reintegrate into society; thus, services for these concerns are imperative for successful reintegration. Unfortunately, services are often lacking, particularly in rural communities which tend to be overlooked in reentry research. In order to better determine service need for justice-involved populations in rural communities, the current study completed a gap analysis, both inspired and supplemented, by qualitative information collected from mental health providers (MHPs) in a rural Appalachian region of Tennessee. To complete the gap analysis, an estimation of need was collected via local crime statistics. Using this data, a two-sample t-test revealed that increased rurality was related to a significantly higher percentage of substance use related crimes, but not to crimes against persons or sexual crimes. Service availability data was then collected for local providers in the domains of general mental health, substance abuse, anger management (or anger management aligned), and sex offender treatment. It was found that nine of the ten counties in the identified region are considered mental health professional shortage areas (MHPSAs) for general mental health care. Using average caseload data from local MHPs, a calculation of provider shortfall was completed for specialty services for returning citizens. For the identified 10-county region, provider shortfalls were existent in all treatment domains. The largest gap identified was for anger management aligned services, while the smallest gap identified was for sex offender treatment services. An increase in rurality did not ensure an increased provider shortfall across domains. Overall, MPHs in the area identified similar needs in treatment services via two major qualitative themes and five subthemes. The findings from the current study provide a specific example of what services are missing for rural returning citizens. It is hoped that the results of this study help inform policy and programming efforts in rural communities as they attempt to close the service gap and successfully reintegrate rural returning citizens.

Document Type

Dissertation - embargo


Copyright by the authors.