Date of Award

Summer July 2015

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Antonia Darder

Second Advisor

Rebecca Herr Stephenson

Third Advisor

Rebecca Ginsburg


Too often, the truth behind a phenomenon is not sought through the perspectives of the people who lived that phenomenon—“the masters of inquiry” into their own realities, as Paulo Freire (1982, p. 29) has explained. Voice is the most powerful, reliable medium for collecting data based on lived experiences, if we are to gain genuine insight into the phenomenon (Freire, 1982). Focusing on the lived experiences of four formerly incarcerated young men of color, this study gave each participant the space to not only recall specific events and times, but to critically reflect on their lives—becoming more critically aware of their individual journeys and constructing new knowledge of the injustices that relate to the school-to-prison pipeline, including recommendations for change. This study sought to answer the following research questions through the voices of the participants: (a) Based on their collective and individual journeys through the juvenile justice system, how do formerly incarcerated youth describe their experiences? (b) What recommendations do formerly incarcerated young men have for reducing youth incarceration and recidivism rates? The participants provided rich narratives that answered each research question with the expert knowledge that can only be derived from firsthand experience. Through careful analysis of the data, several major themes emerged, tying together the experiences of each participant with the findings from the literature. Each participant spoke passionately on not only the need for change, but also specific recommendations for change. It is the power of their poignant insights that ground conclusions offered in this study.