A Forgotten Population: Pell Grants for Ex-Prisoners

This is something I hadn’t known or thought about at all.

Take a look.

    • Restoring Pell Grant access to people in state prisons could stand to help some 463,000 individuals enroll in postsecondary education, boost their job prospects and reduce their chance of recidivism, according to a new report by the Vera Institute of Justice and the Georgetown University Center on Poverty and Inequality.

The question to me is, do people actually want them to be educated and improve their standing in life upon release? Or do they want them to struggle and therefore have a much higher chance of re-offending… and bring more profit to the prison-industrial complex?

I think you know the answer to this.

Connecticut’s Asnuntuck Community College, for instance, offers inmates either an associate degree or a certificate in manufacturing, an in-demand field in the state. Likewise, the Milwaukee Area Technical College is helping create a steady pipeline of workers for Wisconsin’s growing manufacturing industry by certifying inmates in the field.

Some partner programs go beyond technical fields. In New Jersey, inmates can earn a bachelor of arts in criminal justice through Rutgers University. The program was created specifically for the incarcerated population to find jobs in areas such as research and policy.

Education can be a critical component in reducing recidivism rates. A 2014 Rand Corporation report found that inmates who participated in education programs while in prison were nearly half (43%) as likely to be reincarcerated than those who didn’t.

Does this have any chance of happening?

In December, President Donald Trump signed the First Step Act, which will allow the early release of thousands of federal prisoners and will cut the length of future stays. In addition, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has called restoring Pell access for prisoners “a very good and interesting possibility.”

Even so, other signs suggest prisoners may remain banned from receiving federal student aid.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said he’d consider reinstating inmates’ access to Pell under the next Higher Education Act, but opinions are mixed on whether that legislation could survive a divided Congress. Moreover, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, introduced a bill in February that would have restored prison Pell access…

Wow!

, but it failed to gain support among Republicans.

There it is.

Worth keeping an eye on.