Wendy Hernandez

A Qualitative Study on the Intersection of Higher Education and Incarceration in African-American and Latino/a Households

This study aims to analyze how two opposing institutions in California affect Latino/a and African American family ties. These two racial groups occupy the majority of the prisons in California, and are also two of the least represented racial groups in higher education. Additionally, recent studies surface familial incarceration as having negative schooling outcomes in the household (Loper 2014). Contrarily, this study is investigating the population of students that contradict the latter claim, as they are all university students. More specifically, it asks, what are the strategies that Latina and African-American womyn with incarcerated male family members have used to access higher education, despite the obstacles their families face due to familial incarceration? How do they overcome the negative stigma correlated with incarceration, financial and cultural obstacles to achieve higher education? And, does the presence of an incarcerated member in the home play a significant role in family dynamics? This work is approached through a critical race theory and restorative justice framework as the methodology is the collection of oral stories. The goal of this study is to identify policy reforms for the carceral and public education systems, by paying special attention to university womyn with incarcerated male family members.