The Impact of Positionalities and Identities on Women’s Lives and Experiences in a Gender- Responsive Program (GRP) in a Jail Setting

  • Lisa Baumgartner Texas A&M University
  • Carolyn L. Sandoval Texas A&M University
Keywords: gender responsive programming, women, offenders, identity theory, possible selves


The purpose of this study is to analyze the life histories of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their experiences with a jail’s gender-responsive program. Ten women participated in life history interviews. Data was analyzed using the constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) through lenses of positionalities, family systems theory, and identity theory. Childhood abuse and trauma affected women’s life experiences. Their ability to build healthy relationships, trust others and imagine possible selves impacted how they experienced GRP in jail. Age and gender affected how they experienced the criminal justice system. Findings have implications for social justice education and GRPs.

Author Biographies

Lisa Baumgartner, Texas A&M University
Lisa M. Baumgartner, Ed.D. is an associate professor of adult education at Texas A&M University. Her research interests include examining adult learning and development in marginalized populations. 
Carolyn L. Sandoval, Texas A&M University
Carolyn L. Sandoval, Ph.D. is an instructional consultant at the Center for Teaching Excellence and a visiting lecturer in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University. Her research interests include the impact of mass incarceration on women, women as adult learners, critical feminist methodologies, life history research, and transformative learning.


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