Date of Award

January 2021

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Betsy Matthews

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Second Advisor

Judah Schept

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Third Advisor

John James Brent

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


The United States has seen an influx of incarcerated women since the 1980s with a 750% increase between 1980 and 2017. There is a substantial amount of literature about how women experience prison and the unique challenges they face as they reenter society such as motherhood, previous abuse, mental health, and housing. Conclusions drawn suggest that the current structure fails to prepare women for a society that denounces women who have been incarcerated. What is less known is how this research translates to the jail environment. For reasons to be discussed, it is likely that local jails are even less equipped to address women’s needs. We used data from in-depth semi-structured interviews with 14 women housed in a local urban jail to explore perceptions of jail and reentry prospects. The overriding feeling was that the jail was indifferent toward women and failed to prepare them for successful integration into society. Recommendations for improved jail conditions and reentry programming for women housed in jail are discussed.