Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

David Schweingruber


In Iowa, individuals sentenced to life without parole are faced with the realization that they will die behind bars. The only way out is by applying to the Governor and Iowa Board of Parole for sentence commutation. The outcome is rarely successful for the applicant. My study looks at a selection of 40 applications from 1999 to 2013. Using the grounded theory method, I conduct a document analysis of each application. I have opted for the "Journal Papers in a Thesis" type dissertation. Included are three manuscripts prepared for submission to scholarly journals. Each of the three topics are related as they explore the ways in which individuals sentenced to life without parole attempt to construct an identity worthy of sentence commutation. The first article takes the broad approach to studying narrative construction across commutation applications. The second article focuses on doing gender, specifically how men and women who have been convicted of murder or kidnapping account for their behavior. The third explores the narrative of role exit, the process of becoming an ex-murderer or ex-kidnapper.

Copyright Owner

Laurie Jordan Linhart



File Format


File Size

130 pages

Included in

Sociology Commons