Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Hines-Martin, Vicki

Author's Keywords

Mothers; Incarcerated mothers; Women in prison; Mothering in prison; Mothers in prison; Incarcerated women


Women prisoners--Family relationships--Kentucky; Children of women prisoners--Kentucky; Prisoners' families--Effect of imprisonment on--Kentucky; Mothers--Kentucky


A phenomenological study of the lived experience of mothering during incarceration was conducted at a women's multi-custody level prison in Kentucky. The purpose of the study was to explore and describe the experience of mothering among incarcerated women to address the gap within this body of literature. Semi-structured interviews, observation, and field notes from 24 participants were collected and analyzed to provide an in-depth understanding of the mothering experience for the participants. Burnard's method was used for analysis of the interview data. Two major themes emerged including: Living in the fire: The lived experience of incarcerated mothers which stemmed from two sub-themes: "Mistakes were made" and the 'Here and Now' of it and "Emerging from the fire: Dreams for the future as mothers" which arose from the sub-themes "Motivated to change" and "Redefining themselves".