LOADING ...

Congress Considering Making Pell Grants Available to Inmates, Reversing Decades-Long Ban

Ibn Safir Apr 22, 2019. 4 comments

With droves of research suggesting education is one of the most effective tools to rehabilitate those currently serving sentences behind bars, Congress is trying to do something to make education more available to inmates.

According to NPR, The Restoring Education and Learning Act, a bipartisan bill in Congress would allow incarcerated people to use federal Pell Grants offered to lower-income students to pay for college courses and workforce training.

Senator Brain Schatz (D-HI) said the bill would “give people a real chance to rebuild their lives” in a statement.

“When we give people in prison an opportunity to earn an education, our communities are safer, taxpayers save money, and we can end the cycle of recidivism,” Schatz added.

If enacted, the REAL Act would a ban on inmates accessing Pell grants that has been in place since 1994.

The idea to make Pell Grants available anew to inmates was first piloted by the Second Chance Pell experiment ran in 2015 by the Obama Administration. The Education Department under Obama identified universities, community colleges and training programs to help educated incarcerated people who qualified for Pell. To date, the pilot has involved more than 10,000 inmates and more than 60 institutions, according to NPR.

The program, per a report from the Vera Institute of Justice, could save states a projected $365 million per year on incarceration costs.

As pilots tend to last three to five years, Congress would need to pass a bill resembling the REAL Act to take Second Chance Pell out of its pilot phase, bringing it to a wider number of inmates.

“People in prison are often really ready for opportunities to grow and to change and to think about new futures that they might be able to have,” according to Ruth Delaney, a program manager at the Vera Institute of Justice. “So offering college in prison is a really great moment in someone’s life to offer the opportunity for that change.”

While the REAL Act could help reduce recidivism and save money, the Government Accountability Office reviewed Second Chance Pell in April and found a few challenges to widespread implementation, including eligibility (due to the Selective Service requirement), previous student debt, and the complicated FAFSA process.

Still, empowered by the success of the original pilot and the support for the First Step Act, which packaged a number of reforms

aimed at reducing recidivism , experts have reason for optimism.

“In the afterglow of the success of the First Step Act,” said Jesse Kelley, who studies criminal justice for R Street, a conservative research firm, “everyone wants to continue the trend.”

4 Comments

Other Ibn Safir's posts

Trump Administration Bars Pride Flags From Embassy Flagpoles Trump Administration Bars Pride Flags From Embassy Flagpoles

Four-year Dadaist art installation Donald Trump and his administration are rejecting requests from United States embassies to fly the rainbow flag mo...

West Point Identifies Cadet Killed in Training Accident West Point Identifies Cadet Killed in Training Accident

  The remains of a cadet killed in a vehicle accident near the West Point training site have been identified, according to CNN.Twenty-two-year-old Chr...

Louisiana Deputy Fired, Arrested, for Reportedly Forcing Mother to Perform Oral Sex on Infant Son Louisiana Deputy Fired, Arrested, for Reportedly Forcing Mother to Perform Oral Sex on Infant Son

A 42-year-old Louisiana sheriff’s deputy, Shaderick Jones, allegedly forced a 26-year-old mother Iyeseha Todd to perform oral sex on her infant son w...

Army Veteran Everett Palmer Died in Police Custody in 2018. His Family Can’t Find His Heart Army Veteran Everett Palmer Died in Police Custody in 2018. His Family Can’t Find His Heart

A 41-year-old U.S. Army veteran called his brother to tell him he was heading to New York to visit their sick mother. Before he left, he needed to ma...

Suggested posts

Belly of the Beast Documentary Aims to Uncover Injustices Faced by Incarcerated Women Belly of the Beast Documentary Aims to Uncover Injustices Faced by Incarcerated Women

Belly of the Beast, a powerful documentary film about the human rights abuses experienced by women at the hands of the criminal justice system, will ...

Muslim Lawmakers to Host National Ramadan Celebration Virtually Muslim Lawmakers to Host National Ramadan Celebration Virtually

To celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, lawmakers are hosting a virtual iftar next month to ensure American Muslims can fellowship with leaders in th...

2 Black Men Released From Prison After Serving Over 17 Years for a Crime They Say They Didn't Commit 2 Black Men Released From Prison After Serving Over 17 Years for a Crime They Say They Didn't Commit

Two Detroit-area black men locked up for the better part of 20 years for crimes they say they didn’t commit were recently freed from prison after the...

Department of Justice Revises Early Release Requirements for Federal Prisoners Department of Justice Revises Early Release Requirements for Federal Prisoners

A prison in Fort Worth, Texas, has seen coronavirus cases increase by 275 percent over the course of a week. New models have shown that failure to re...

New COVID-19 Model Predicts Failure to Reduce Jails Will Lead to Nearly 100,000 More Coronavirus Deaths New COVID-19 Model Predicts Failure to Reduce Jails Will Lead to Nearly 100,000 More Coronavirus Deaths

Since the coronavirus became a global pandemic, predictive models have been an important—and hotly debated—tool to help understand the spread of the ...

Michigan Man Completing a 44-Year Life Sentence Dies From Coronavirus Just Weeks Away From Release Michigan Man Completing a 44-Year Life Sentence Dies From Coronavirus Just Weeks Away From Release

Earlier this year, 60-year-old William Garrison had an important choice to make. Convicted to serve a lifetime in prison when he was just 16 years ol...

Louisiana Prisoner Says He Was Choked by Sheriff's Deputy for Seeking Medical Care Louisiana Prisoner Says He Was Choked by Sheriff's Deputy for Seeking Medical Care

If you thought that being in the midst of a global pandemic would inspire folks to act a little more humanely, well, you would unfortunately be wrong...

Trump Made Another Empty Threat. Something About Adjourning Congress, but Here’s Why He Can’t Do That Either Trump Made Another Empty Threat. Something About Adjourning Congress, but Here’s Why He Can’t Do That Either

Trump does this thing when he’s losing, and the move isn’t sophisticated or even nuanced. Trump literally finds something else to complain about and ...

Calls and Video Visits Free in Federal Prisons During Pandemic Calls and Video Visits Free in Federal Prisons During Pandemic

Those currently incarcerated are among the most vulnerable of our population when it comes to COVID-19, as the crowded living conditions make them fa...

The Root Joins PBS' Independent Lens and the film Bedlam for a Discussion on Mental Health and Mass Incarceration The Root Joins PBS' Independent Lens and the film Bedlam for a Discussion on Mental Health and Mass Incarceration

The numbers are staggering.According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than one in five adults—essentially 40 million Americans—are liv...

Language