Postsecondary Educational Trajectories of Formerly Incarcerated Persons
Tolani Britton

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, Berkeley

Primary Discipline

Higher Education
Given the limited work opportunities available to persons who have been incarcerated, a college degree could serve as one means to improve both educational and job market outcomes. A number of states have expanded access to college classes for incarcerated persons. In 2014, California passed SB 1391, a law that allowed for equal per-student funding of college courses in prison and on campus. However, there is limited research on whether this access to college while in prison is associated with postsecondary persistence and completion of a certificate or degree. Using administrative data from the California community colleges during the 2012–2021 period, I carry out an event study and use linear probability models to measure the likelihood of re-enrollment in a community college, persistence, and completion of either a degree or certificate for formerly incarcerated persons in California who took community college courses while incarcerated when compared to community college students who were formerly incarcerated and did not have access to these courses. I also explore whether re-enrollment and persistence differs by race or ethnicity given the disproportionate incarceration of Black and Latinx men. Findings have implications for policy on access to educational opportunities for formerly incarcerated persons.
About Tolani Britton
Tolani A. Britton is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. She uses quasi-experimental methods to explore the impact of policies on access and persistence in higher education, as well as students’ transition from secondary school to higher education. Her research has been supported by the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and the Russell Sage Foundation.Her work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of Economics, Race, and Policy, Journal of Higher Education, and Teachers College Record. Dr. Britton is a member of the editorial board for Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. She earned her doctorate in Quantitative Policy Analysis at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Britton has also worked as a high school math teacher and college counselor in New York City public schools and as a policy analyst for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France. Her scholastic credentials include a Master of Arts in Economics from Tufts University, a Master of Arts in French Cultural Studies from Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Arts in both Economics and French Literature from Tufts University.

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