Women's Pathways to Incarceration in a Southern State's Prisons: an Exploratory Study
This study seeks to apply and expand the feminist pathways perspective of women who are incarcerated. The current study leverages thematic content analysis to examine women’s narratives of their pathways to incarceration in a southern state of the United States. The study analyzes 79 third-party transcriptions of the Women’s Risk/Needs Assessment in three different state prisons. The results include three overarching themes and pathways that women noted in their narratives: prior violence and victimization, socioeconomic marginalization, and maladaptive coping mechanisms. The current study breaks down each of these broad themes into subthemes while centering the women’s words and narratives in describing their different pathways. This research additionally contextualizes the women’s experiences in Southern cultural norms and highlights the prevalence of faith in women’s healing journeys during incarceration. Finally, this study discusses limitations, policy recommendations, and future research, with a focus on mitigating these factors not only upon reentry, but potentially before women are involved in the criminal justice system at all.