Takeaways and Further Research
Justice impacted students in California community colleges — both incarcerated and formerly incarcerated — are succeeding academically across multiple dimensions. In particular, as compared to their main campus counterparts, the students are achieving greater success and similar if not higher grades (most notably, for students who are incarcerated). These results reinforce research demonstrating the strength and potential of this new generation of students, and justify increased public and private support for college programs. The data also raises additional questions worthy of exploration as researchers and advocates explore this growing field. Further inquiry into incarcerated students’ higher grades is particularly important, as the roots of their success may translate into practices that can improve results for all community college students. Other critical questions include outcome differences between face-to-face and distance modalities, the frequency with which and conditions supporting students beginning their studies inside prison but completing outside, and measuring additional outcomes such as leadership and increased social capital. These and other questions are raised here.