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Forum Post: The Battle to Bring Back Pell Grants for Prisoners

Posted 5 years ago on March 24, 2013, 8:24 a.m. EST by GirlFriday (17435)
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Critics have long said that college classes behind bars coddle criminals. But here’s a no-brainer: Would you prefer living next door to a released prisoner who is or is not college-educated?

Research shows that the more education a person has, the less likely that person is to return to crime. Not only have college classes for prisoners consistently reduced recidivism, they’ve helped the formerly incarcerated get jobs upon release and lessened disciplinary issues and racial barriers behind bars—all of which means that when an educated prisoner returns to the streets, we all benefit.

But not everyone realizes this reality. That’s why a recent conference at Rutgers University called for the reinstating of Pell Grants nationwide to prisoners in federal and state facilities. College education in prison was mostly supported by Pell Grants until a little-known provision in a major crime control law passed through Congress in 1994 and devastated prison education across the country. The amendment grew out of the misrepresentation that Pell Grants for prisoners ripped opportunity out of the hands of non-criminals who needed to educate their children. The truth is that, nationwide, 25,000 prisoner-students received grants of the 4.7 million Pells dispersed—which means that less than 1 percent were given to the incarcerated.

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[-] 1 points by OTP (-203) from Tampa, FL 5 years ago

All that time in there, and almost no educational opportunities. I would go one further and make them mandatory. And rewardable.

Not based on grades, but based on attendance- baring serious medical conditions.

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 5 years ago

I don't know if I would go so far as to make them mandatory but, those pell grants need to come back.

[-] 1 points by OTP (-203) from Tampa, FL 5 years ago

It would be interesting to get together some kind of retired teacher group that would volunteer to go into prisons on a weekly basis to teach. Check the number.

Do it first with no incentives, and optional.

Do it again with incentives.

Do it again with mandatory.

And then do some study to see what the repeat offender status is. Would be some very useful insight regardless of what the best one of the three would be.

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 5 years ago

Well, we know that incentives work- like time off a sentence. We have stats that note that the recidivism rate is much, much lower.

[-] 1 points by OTP (-203) from Tampa, FL 5 years ago

They work very well. I have friends who never ate any shit, ended up in it, and then bit their tongues for the 2/3rd benefits.

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 5 years ago

Whole different world when you can see a future.

[-] 1 points by Nader (74) 5 years ago

I think you would have a hard time finding teachers who would rather volunteer in a prison than in an after school program or something else for people who aren't actually convicted felons.

[-] 1 points by OTP (-203) from Tampa, FL 5 years ago

I think so as well. But figured it may be worth a shot.

Not that going to a prison once a week is the epitome of a great retirement, but may be an interesting way to give back. And the success stories would be incredible.

[-] 1 points by Nader (74) 5 years ago

I imagine it could be very rewarding if the prisoners actually wanted to be there learning. If it was a situation where the prisoners were forced or coerced into taking classes it would probably be a miserable time for the teachers.

[-] 2 points by OTP (-203) from Tampa, FL 5 years ago

Good point.