Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Elizabeth I. Johnson

Committee Members

Elizabeth I. Johnson, Michelle Brown, Jeremy Kanter


Formerly incarcerated individuals face a plethora of hardships when they reenter society that may increase their risk for future reincarceration. Documenting the expectations and experiences individuals have for reentry may provide more context for the high reincarceration rates seen in the United States and serve as an entry point for future interventions. Towards this end, the current study investigates incarcerated fathers’ expectations for reentry, their post-release experiences, and the implications of discrepancies between expectations and experiences for short-term reincarceration. Data came from the Multi-site Family Study on Incarceration, Parenting, and Partnering (MFS-IP). The analytic sample consisted of 346 Black and White fathers who provided data shortly before and after their release from prison. Fathers were asked about their expectations for logistical support, financial stability, and family relationships and coresidence before release. Upon release, they reported their experiences in each of these domains. Expectations and experiences were cross-tabulated to determine whether expectations were met. Descriptive analyses indicated that there is variability among incarcerated fathers in terms of whether they expect to have their logistical, financial, and relational needs met upon reentry and whether those needs are actually met. Binary logistic regressions that were stratified by race and included controls for several theoretically relevant variables provided limited support for the predictive utility of expectations on reincarceration. Additionally, among White fathers, more unmet expectations were actually associated with decreased risk for short-term reincarceration, whereas no significant relationship was detected for Black fathers. Findings highlight the areas in which individuals can use more support and provide valuable information for policymakers as they work to support the reentry process. Furthermore, these results showcase the racialized effects of the criminal legal system and highlight the need to critically examine why such differences exist and reflect on the systemic processes that entrench them.

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026

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