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According to Galvan and Galvan (2017), before completing a literature review, one should carefully analyze their research articles prior to beginning the writing process. When evaluating this kind of research, consideration should be given to how the journal article relates to the current research project that is being conducted (Stadtlander, 2018). This examination includes reading the titles, abstracts, and the beginning paragraphs of the articles (Galvan & Galvan, 2017). This provides the reader with a general idea and introduction to what the article is about and what the research question (s) entail (Galvan & Galvan, 2017). Major points to consider in this review process are why is the study being done and what gaps in the literature are they hoping to fill (Stadtlander, 2018)? The journal article by Frerich and Murphy-Nugen (2019) is evaluated below by considering the abstract, the information found in the introduction, the results, the findings, and the implications of the study.


Frerich, M. A., & Murphy-Nugen, A. B. (2019). Women’s voices: An appreciative inquiry of off-site postsecondary correctional education. Affilia: Journal of Women & Social Work, 34(1), 8-27.


Women prisoners frequently feel dehumanized from being imprisoned and from the gendered experiences that they endure before and after they get there. As a result of the dehumanizing process of prison, they feel a loss of self and a disconnection to the community. Participating in “postsecondary correlational education (PSCE)” has been effective in the restoration of female prisoner’s humanity for themselves and their community (p. 8).


The number of women prisoners is increasing, and this is not connected to increases in violence among them. It is partly due to “the war on drugs” and mandatory arrest guidelines (p. 8).

Even though their numbers are climbing, women make up a small number of those imprisoned. They are in a correctional system designed by males, operated by men, and not made for women prisoners.

Female prisoners often face a gendered pathway to prison which results from trauma, intimate partner abuse, discrepancies in income levels, discrimination at work, and their position as a parent. Typically, these issues are still present upon a woman’s release from prison.

A woman’s race compounds gender issues. Most female prisoners are usually non-violent offenders, mothers of young children, and women of color. Female inmates may also be mentally and physically impaired. They also tend to lose contact with their children and families while imprisoned.

After being imprisoned women are also stigmatized for having a record and this impairs their capability to rebuild their lives upon release. It also interferes with their ability to support themselves and their children.

When female inmates become involved in postsecondary correctional education (PSCE), it reduces their likelihood of recidivism, their chances for employment are improved, and their humanity is restored. Up until now, there has been little qualitative research on women participating in offsite PSCE, and this gap is addressed in this research.


This study involved four women who graduated with a college degree either during their imprisonment or shortly after their release. They were interviewed and asked questions about their experiences.

The four women noted in their interviews that prison frequently minimizes one’s humanity because of how they are treated and due to the experiences specifically associated with a woman’s gender.

They also reported experiencing a loss of their self-worth and self-efficacy. Women lose their power, their “overall biological, psychosocial, and spiritual well-being” while they are imprisoned (p. 13).

Even though there are gender issues that lead them to prison, there are also approaches that take them away from prison and back to their community.

Based on their interview answers, a unifying theme and subthemes emerged from their interview responses. The unifying theme was a “restoration of one’s humanity through participation in PSCE” (p. 13). The two subthemes were “restoration of self” and “restoration of connection and community” (p. 13).

All four of the women indicated that PSCE led them back to their community while restoring their humanity.

The Findings of The Study

Female prisoners can gain relational autonomy by connecting to social resources, power, or education.

Advocating for women in broader perspectives, like education, benefits the participants of this study and other incarcerated women in society.

When women reject the normally oppressive nature of imprisonment and replace it with taking part in educational programs, becoming involved in self-reflection, and group participation, they move toward bettering themselves and their communities.

Women who participated in this study felt like their humanity was restored by obtaining a college education off-site.

Part of these feelings come from having choices to obtain a post-secondary education while living in a place where almost all decisions are already made for you.

Implications the Author(S) Drew From the Findings

Obtaining an education moves women toward “participatory democracy, critical self-reflection, and collective action” instead of inaction (p. 21).

This process also makes female inmates feel more normal, which is a key to success after their release from prison.

Becoming educated makes women stop feeling like they are practically invisible, which often happens when they are imprisoned and obtain the status of a criminal.

Postsecondary educations improve the chances of employment and reduces the likelihood of recidivism for these women.


Galvan, J. L., & Galvan, M. C. (2017). Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences (7th ed). Routledge.

Stadtlander, L. (2018). Finding your way to a Ph.D.: Advice from the dissertation mentor (2nd ed.). Createspace.


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