All studies show that the best way to reduce crime is to educate offenders! Prisoners who participate in postsecondary education are less likely to commit crimes or parole violations after they are released from prison – by a whopping 43%.

Compared to the costs of re-incarcerating a recidivist, every dollar spent on postsecondary education saves about $5 dollars in costs. The report estimates that if the Pell ban for prisoners were to be lifted, the net savings for all states would exceed $350 million.

Excerpts from the Article:

In this era of rediscovered bipartisan enthusiasm for criminal justice reform, it’s time for Congress and President Trump to take the next step and make the REAL Act law. The REAL (Restoring Education And Learning) Act, which has been introduced in both houses of Congress with Republican and Democrat sponsorship, would repeal the ban against state and federal prisoners receiving Pell grants that pay for college classes they take while still incarcerated.

When Pell grants began in 1972, inmates were eligible for awards, but that changed in 1994 when Bill Clinton, trying to establish his New Democrat bona fides, decided to get tough on crime and signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, ending prisoners’ eligibility for Pell support. This was a foolish decision, driven by political posturing rather than financial necessity or sound policy.

Ending the ban on Pell grants for prisoners thereby making higher education more accessible for inmates is the right thing to do. And it’s the smart thing to do. Here’s the evidence, much of it contained in a recent report by the Vera Institute, generally regarded as one of the most comprehensive studies available on the topic.

Of approximately 1.5 million state and federal inmates, 64 % have either graduated from high school or hold a GED, making them eligible for enrolling in college courses.

The main barrier remains cost – most prisoners cannot afford to pay even discounted tuition and few states appropriate sufficient funds to underwrite a regular schedule of in-prison college courses. Consequently, only 9% of inmates complete college classes while incarcerated.

Prisoners who participate in postsecondary education are less likely to commit crimes or parole violations after they are released from prison – by a whopping 43%.

Compared to the costs of re-incarcerating a recidivist, every dollar spent on postsecondary education saves about $5 dollars in costs. The report estimates that if the Pell ban for prisoners were to be lifted, the net savings for all states would exceed $350 million.

In-prison college programs increase the safety and security of correctional facilities, an effect that extends to participants, staff and even inmates not enrolled in courses. Following release from prison, individuals who take part in a college program are more likely to find employment and have higher annual earnings than those who don’t.

The participating colleges offered 82 certificate programs, 69 associate degree programs and 24 baccalaureate majors. By the second year of the pilot, a total of 934 credentials had been awarded, including 701 certificates, 230 associate’s degrees and 23 bachelor’s degrees.

In the words of Senator Brian Schatz (D, Hawaii), one of the REAL Act’s sponsors, “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. The REAL Act would restore a program we know already works and give people a real chance to rebuild their lives.”

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