Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Guillermo Montes

Second Supervisor

Tisha Smith


Making good post-incarceration decisions are important for helping formerly incarcerated individuals avoid a return to prison. This is the first study to look at emotional intelligence (EI) components formerly incarcerated men considered important for post-prison criminal desistance. This study explored six former New York state male prisoner’s individual experiences developing EI competencies, and how those EI skills contributed to their post-release decisions to desist crime. Research participants spent an average 7.5 years in a New York state prison, and have been out of prison and living in the community for an average 3.6 years without recommitting a criminal offense. Research interviews revealed that the internal process of self-reflection instigates an increased state of self-awareness. Self-awareness is the foundation for developing responsible decision-making skills and the motivation to desist crime. In addition, participants’ decisions to desist crime were also mediated by external factors including pro-social relationships with family members and friends, and having gainful employment.

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