Black Lawmakers Want to Make Pell Grant Available to the Incarcerated
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have crossed the aisle to introduce landmark legislation to strengthen successful re-entry and economic growth by restoring Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated individuals. Pell grants are money the government provides for students who need it to pay for college. The bipartisan and bicameral Restoring Education and Learning Act would expand educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals, which research shows have tremendous effectiveness and save taxpayer dollars. The measure was introduced by CBC members Barbara Lee (D-CA), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), and Cedric Richmond (D-LA). They were joined by Congressmen Jim Banks (R-IN) and French Hill (R-AR). Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Mike Lee (R-UT)lead the bill in the Senate. “This legislation is a great step towards addressing the economic and social realities that drive mass incarceration, especially in communities of color,” said Congresswoman Lee. Mass incarceration is built upon excessive sentences and limited opportunities for rehabilitation. Workforce training and education in prison are key to unlocking potential and increasing the likelihood of success upon release. The majority of incarcerated people are academically eligible to advance to post-secondary level courses, according to a recent report from the Vera Institute and the Georgetown University Center on Poverty and Integrity. More than 400,000 incarcerated people would be eligible for Pell Grants if the ban were lifted. Formerly incarcerated people would be 10% more likely to find employment. Researchers also found that expanding access to education in prison would result in a $45.3 million increase in combined earnings for formerly incarcerated workers during the first year after release; and more access to education would result in decreased recidivism rates, saving states a combined $365.8 million per year on incarceration costs. “Permanent restoration of Pell Grant eligibility for the incarcerated is a smart federal investment that makes communities safer and our country stronger while reducing taxpayer costs,” said Davis. More here.