Parental Experience with the Incarceration of Their Juvenile: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study

Parental Experience with the Incarceration of Their Juvenile: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study

Author: 
James A. Thomas
Program of study: 
Ed.D./CI
Abstract: 
The purpose of this qualitative hermeneutic phenomenological study is to understand the meaning of the parents’ perceptions about their experience with the incarceration of their juvenile. A purposeful sampling of 15 parents who had a child incarcerated in the Michigan Juvenile Justice System participated in the study. An inquiry approach provided an opportunity for participants to elaborate on their lived experiences of the phenomenon during face-to-face interviews, using open-ended questions as the primary data gathering process (Vagle, 2014). Triangulation included parent validation (member-checking), research notes, and current literature. The data were analyzed using NVivo 11 software to emerge six themes for valuable insight for parents, policy makers, future support, and assistance to states, school districts, and local juvenile justice programs. The themes were parent experiences, parent perceptions, parent relationships, juvenile justice, emotions, and parent connectedness. The findings reinforced the importance of a needed platform for parents to become more readily involved in the juvenile justice system. The parents proved to have a willingness to continue to build strong relationships with their juvenile when given an opportunity. Recommendations for continued research to seek a better understanding of the parents’ perceptions about their incarcerated juvenile and willingness to support their juvenile. Additional studies may include a longitudinal study focused on socioeconomic and demographic groups. The findings may inform future research in the global context and may provide a clearer understanding of the problems, experiences, and perspectives of parents, their incarcerated juvenile, and the juvenile justice system that serves them.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this study to the two people I most highly love and respect in my life, my parents, Anthony Craig Thomas (Deceased 1995) and Eva Mae Thomas. They have been my guiding light from birth up to this momentous occasion. I have learned many things from my father, the importance of getting an education, hard work, determination, and self-respect. On the other hand, my mother taught me the respect for others, care and concern, uplift, perseverance, and meekness. As a child, I always wanted to please my parents and often fell short, but as a father with my children, I want to be an example to my children by exemplifying those attributes my parents instilled in me. Honey Bunch and Pops, I love both of you. RIP William Washington Jr.
Acknowledgements: 
First and foremost, I want to give thanks to the Almighty God and His son Jesus Christ who is the head of my life. God is love, for it is His grace and mercy that has kept me all of my life. I would like to thank my wife, Nichole Sharee Thomas, who has been so understanding and supportive throughout this whole process. I would like to thank my children, JaRhon and Joidyn, who allowed me to sacrifice a portion of my time with them to show them an inspiring pathway to a joyful life. I would also like to thank my step-children, Michael and Malik, for allowing me to be involved in their lives and cast a positive impression upon their journey of life. I would like to thank the men of Omega Psi Phi and the Doctors of that great fraternity that have helped me along the way. I would like to thank Dr. Herman McCall who impressed upon me, a positive way of thinking and acting, as a leader. I would like to thank Dr. Lee Martin for being my professional anchor and sounding board. I would like to thank Constance Gwynn for the therapy sessions and Betty Henderson, an angel in my professional life. I would like to thank all my staff for their understanding and support. I would like to thank all my brothers, sisters and family members for lending me their wisdom and knowledge; I am truly an extension of them. I would like to thank all those that I have met, friends and acquaintances, who have shared their life’s experiences which have shaped and molded my thinking. I want to thank my dissertation chairperson, Dr. Heather Allen, she has come aboard at a crucial time and provided me with such positivity and encouragement that helped me to “See it Through.” My committee members, Dr. Bill and Dr. Burrus who were purposefully selected. I want to thank both of you for accepting my request. Dr. Bill while I was taking your course, I noticed your focus on detail and you have been a positive adjustment to my character. Dr. Burrus, after reading your bio, I knew you were a Godsend because I will be able to collaborate with you in the future. I would be remiss if I did not thank Dr. Stephanie Hoffman. Once Dr. Hoffman became my chairperson things began to take off and move in right direction. Finally, I want to give special thanks to all the participates in this study that allowed me to share their lived experience. Without your acceptance and participation, this study would not have been possible. Thank you