Lived Experiences of Formerly Incarcerated Adults Traveling on the Road to Rehabilitation

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Criminal rehabilitation continues to be a significant social problem. Previous research suggests that the majority of offenders leave the penal system with little to no discharge planning (Placido, Simon, Gu, and Wong, 2005). Researchers have also found that rates of recidivism are often influenced by the degree of the offender’s motivation to succeedand their personal outlook on life (Allen, 2013). Thus, the combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors can affect the offender’s chances of successful and persistent rehabilitation. This qualitative case study sought to examine and describe the experiences of formerly incarcerated adults (n=4, all male) and describe a rehabilitation program currently in place in the East Tennessee region. The Day Reporting Center (DRC) is a rehabilitation program where offenders are on house arrest and are required to attend scheduled program classes and counseling. The DRC is part of an $800,000 crime reduction grant funded by the Department of Justice. All respondents have had issues with substance abuse at some point which is a selection requirement of the program. All claim to be completely disassociated from past bad influences, and report having been in and out of jail. Participants indicated that the DRC has been extremely helpful for them and all four have support from their family, partner, or both. In addition,3 out of 4 participants have had parents who struggled or currently struggle with substance or drug abuse. 2 out of 4 participants experienced physical and emotional abuse growing up. Moreover, 3 out of 4 participants stated that being a convicted felon and getting a job outside of the program hours has been difficult. One participant has already received his GED and is currently working on a degree in Automotive Technology in addition to attending the DRC Program. Another participant aspires to attend trade school after graduating from the rehabilitation program. Although respondents reported challenges faced by those in the penal system, they are hopeful for their success in this program. For example, one participant brought up one of his most memorable moments from prison, where he watched his son take his first steps and watched him walk for the first time in prison through the glass. He was genuine and honest about this moment and said, “To be honest with you, I cried. It was so hard. You just want to give him a hug and praise him for his accomplishment, and you can’t, because of the glass.” This participant also recalled the first time he walked on grass after getting out of prison and discussed how this was “one of the greatest feelings in the world” for him. As a final point, remembering those types of moments in the darkest of times may in fact be enough reason for an offender to never want to resort back to that kind of lifestyle again. Keywords: incarcerated, real-world, forensic psychology, criminology, penal system, rehabilitation, rehabilitation programs, research, offenders


Johnson City, TN

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