Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Nursing Studies


Barbara DiCicco-Bloom


Donna M. Nickitas

Subject Categories

Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Nursing


ethnography, incarceration, mothering, reentry, women


There are now more women in prisons and jails than at any time in United States history. A large number of these women will be returning to the community. Women returning to the community after release from prison or jail face numerous challenges to successful reentry, e.g., securing housing and employment. In addition, following separation and care of their children by others, women with children struggle to resume their roles as mother.

This dissertation is an exploration of a program that assists women transitioning from incarceration to the community. This program helps women by helping to develop job skills and offering assistance in finding permanent housing. Another goal of the program is to facilitate mothering and thereby improve family relationships. In addition, these women are offered counseling, substance addiction services, and assistance in navigating the complicated parole system. This study aims to discover how the participants experience and conceptualize this program. Although the program's success is of interest, this thesis does not constitute a formal evaluation.

An ethnographic approach was used to collect the data; specifically, the methods used included participant observation; and in-depth interviews with the women and the staff, as well as with the executives who are the administrators of this organization.

After a year of data collection through participant observation and interviews, three common themes emerged: parenting the parent; the impact of competing demands, and power: If she can do it, so can I. These themes recurred throughout the women's stories.