Post-incarcerated individuals’ online narratives: stories of desistance and “success”

Alexandra S. Hinck, Lesley Withers, Shelly Schaefer Hinck, Rachel Lynn Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study employed a qualitative thematic analysis to gain a deeper insight into post-incarcerated individuals’ narratives about the desistance process posted within an online, naturalistic context. We analyzed 87 online narratives from’s (Prison Talk Online; PTO) Success Stories forum, a discussion space focused on the transition to and life after post-incarceration. Four themes were identified from the narratives as posters discussed their continued desistance: 1) being motivated and resilient, 2) changing their self-perceptions, 3) engaging with/in supportive relationships, and 4) creating space for/from community. We found that online desistance narratives are similar to narratives disclosed in face-to-face contexts. Additionally, online spaces and the affordances they offer are important places for post-incarcerated individuals; these spaces offer the opportunity for members of the community to construct and post narratives where post-incarcerated individuals reflect on their previous actions and perform pro-social identities that help the larger carceral community.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunication Quarterly
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Prison Talk Online
  • desistance
  • online narrative
  • post-incarceration
  • stigma


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