The findings presented in this thesis result from an analysis of the experiences over a three-year period of thirteen women recently released from prison, all of whom simultaneously struggled with severe physical and mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction(s), and histories of trauma. The purpose of this study was to better understand the strategies women with these multiple and overlapping vulnerabilities utilized as they attempted to reintegrate into the community. This group of thirteen women is a subsample of a population of 41 women whose reentry experiences were the focus of a larger, longitudinal research project. The data consist of in-depth interviews with the women conducted within six months of their release from prison and in six-month intervals for approximately three years. I found that women who were able and willing to utilize opportunities for support from formal social services agencies were better able to secure housing, obtain income, address physical and mental health problems, and manage relapse than women who did not or could not utilize such opportunities for support. Formal support agencies were also able to provide a scaffolding approach to reentry, allowing women to incrementally become agentic in their own lives and to develop positive, pro-social identities. The findings indicate that for some women who struggle with the recursive and compounding effects of these multiple and overlapping vulnerabilities comprehensive, centralized, and long-term support may be needed.


Vicki Hunter

Committee Member

Kimberly Greer

Committee Member

Maria Bevacqua

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology and Corrections


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License