Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Kathryn A. Kozaitis

Second Advisor

Emanuela Guano

Third Advisor

Cassandra White


This research examines how the experiences of incarceration affects the identity and social stratification within jailed/imprisoned populations. To this end, the focus of this project is on how retributive justice ideologies within correctional facilities affect the treatment and labeling of people in a method which turns them into an “Other” through means of dehumanization, maltreatment and deviantization. The focus is on the nature of the problem, and on the ways variation shows reform taking place at certain correctional institutions. Sources consulted for this research include first hand perspectives and memories of those who have experienced incarceration. Interview questions and on completed surveys completed by eight previously incarcerated participants stemmed from 115 letters written by currently imprisoned individuals. These were read and coded during a one year internship that I completed with the Incarcerated Voices Project. This research was conducted over an 8 week time-span and included 60-90 minute semi-structured interviews with eight participants. These participants are between the ages of 21 and 50 years of age, and served time in the United States correctional facilities within the last 15 years ranging from one day to 4 years. Conclusions feature data analysis of perspectives which reinforce dominant-power ideology, social stratification on which retributive justice is built, and identity effects experienced by persons who have previously been incarcerated.