Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Janet Jacobs

Second Advisor

Sanyu Majola

Third Advisor

David Pyrooz

Fourth Advisor

Victor Rios

Fifth Advisor

Christina Sue


This dissertation is the qualitative examination of incarcerated men's construction of masculinity across the life course through their experiences of victimization. Using data from thirty life history interviews with incarcerated men who were in a Colorado Department of Corrections rehabilitation program called New Habits (NH), I examine the ways in which respondents developed what I term, de-habilitated masculinity (DM). DM is a version of hyper-masculinity which is cumulatively developed across the life course in a social context of poverty and marginalization and it is initially learned in family systems in which extreme abuse and neglect are the primary and predominant modes of gender socialization. Findings demonstrate how DM is learned in the context of social marginalization and trauma within the family system, achieved during gang involvement, reinforced in the prison environment, and initially deconstructed at NH. I explore the ways in which DM renders boys’ and men’s victimization invisible and contributes to establishing a cycle of violence pathway into gangs and incarceration. The findings illuminate that, when provided with access to rehabilitative programming, incarcerated men have the potential to transform from de-habilitated boys into re-habilitated men. In bringing to light the victimization histories of male prisoners, the goals of this dissertation are to humanize male offenders, to balance society’s perspective of incarcerated men, and to examine the value of rehabilitative justice for the criminal justice system.