Beyond Transitional Work and Low-Wages: Management Employment and Formerly Incarcerated African Americans
Coffey, Vickii p.
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This dissertation reports on a phenomenological investigation of the experience of managerial employment among formerly incarcerated African American men and women. Little is known about the work experience of ex-prisoners. This study addressed that gap in criminology literature and sought to examine and deepen the understanding of the subjective meanings, processes, and experiences of employment for ex-prisoners who secure work beyond transitional and low-wage sector jobs. Transcendental phenomenology was employed as the research method for this study. Thirteen co-researchers were interviewed: (n = 7) men and (n = 6) women. Open-ended, semi-structured interviews were conducted to capture their lived and authentic experience and to allow data to emerge. Findings from the analysis of co-researchers’ narratives revealed five central themes: (1) injustice and corruption in the criminal justice system; (2) making change; (3) going to work; (4) no future nest egg; and, (5) giving back. These findings highlight culturally specific and nuanced cognitive processes, routines, and behaviors exercised by co-researchers in this study to turn away from crime and seek legitimacy through meaningful employment. Further, study findings provide new insights and important implications toward improving the effectiveness of corrections policy and practice and community interventions aimed at increasing the reentry success of formerly incarcerated persons.
Subjectformerly incarcerated persons
African American ex-prisoners
reentry and management employment
ex-prisoner employment experiences