Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Ronald L. Simons


Giddens' Structuration Theory is employed as a theoretical framework for understanding how prisoners experience prison release, work release, and parole. Qualitative research is used to explore the experiences of prison convicts with prison release and reentry to the community. The research provides prisoners and correctional staff with an opportunity to comment on the problems of prison release, work release, reentry to the community, and recidivism. Research focuses on structural impediments to parole success. Structural impediments are defined as societally imposed barriers to prisoner reentry to the community. These impediments may be economic or social. Prison environments, substance abuse, gate money, prison visits, family status, and employment obstacles are discussed. Burawoy's extended case method is employed as a means to theoretically reconceptualize the structure of prison release. The study begins with a theoretical framework built upon the work of Lemert, Goffman, and Foucault. Goffman's discussion of stigma and total institutions is used to introduce the problems of prison release. Foucault's discussion of the carceral archipelago provides a means to conceptualize how prisoners may travel through a series of different prisons on their way to release from prison. Giddens' structuration theory terminology is used to analytically order and discuss the experience of prisoners. Collateral data includes a review of studies of prison release and analyses of publications of the Iowa Department of Corrections, including statistical summaries, institutional inmate rule books, and annual reports. A review of studies of prison release is provided to demonstrate the importance of structural variables, as opposed to individual deficiencies, for understanding work release failure. Interviews of prisoners, correctional staff, and community activists devoted to prison reform, provide primary data for analyses. The criminal justice system is described as a justice juggernaut that extends its surveillance by way of the electronic panopticon. The study demonstrates how an ethnographic case study of Iowa prisoner release, using Giddens' theoretical conception of social structure as rules, resources, time, and space, can be employed to address the problems of parole failure and recidivism.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Stephen Charles Richards



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

231 pages