This thesis focuses on the difficulties that people face upon reentry after incarceration in Kentucky. An ethnographic background was used to understand the current situation of incarceration and reentry in Kentucky. Mass incarceration, Kentucky incarcerated population demographics, high costs of incarceration, and Kentucky politics on incarceration are covered in the ethnographic background. A literature review was used to give context to difficulties that people face such as clothing, disenfranchisement, education, employment, family relations and social support, housing, transportation and basic needs, mental health, religion, and stigma. Ethnographic research methods, which consisted of semi-structured interviews and participant observation, were used to gather qualitative data. The semi-structured interviews differed depending on how the participant related to reentry after incarceration. Participants include people who have previously been incarcerated, people who have a family member that has been incarcerated, and people who help those who have been incarcerated. The methods also include analyzing the findings using theories including everyday violence, symbolic violence, and structural violence. The findings from the ethnographic research include sections for nuance difficulties, differences in difficulties depending on men, women, and people convicted of sexual offenses, change of heart, competition between provider organizations, language, and “can I be something more than the worst thing I have ever done?”.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2019


Amanda S. Green

Mentor Professional Affiliation

Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)