A new national experimental program starts next month – federal funds will be used for prison inmates to take college courses.
Pell Grant funds have been banned from rehabilitation programs, but just last week, the Obama administration has launched the “Second Chance Pell Pilot Program”. Up to 12,000 inmates nationwide – all who are scheduled to be released within five years – will be eligible to earn a certificate or degree while imprisoned. It’s a way to study whether reinstating Pell Grants for prisoners might increase their chances of finding a job after release.
According to the Texas Tribune, over 2,500 Texas inmates will participate in the program, starting next month.
John King, Jr., U.S. Secretary of Education, said promoting education and job training for prisoners saves taxpayer dollars in the long run, so they don’t return to their old lifestyle.
Congress had voted to ban prisoners from receiving Pell Grant funds in 1994, as it unfairly reduced aid to traditional college students. The Second Chance Pell Pilot was started by the Obama administration to erase barriers that prevent people with criminal records from getting jobs and housing.
“This may be a worthwhile idea for some prisoners, but the administration absolutely does not have the authority to do this without approval from Congress,” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, said.
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