One of the largest flaws with the U.S. prison system is that it’s either doing exactly what it was meant to do or is completely missing the point. Instead of rehabilitating prisoners so that they can pay for their crimes and rejoin society as productive individuals, they’re often stuck in a system that has no plans of letting them go.
To help end – or at least put some speed bumps in – the cycle, President Obama’s administration is making a higher education much more convenient for inmates in U.S. prisons. A new plan was introduced that will provide $30 million in pell grants for up to 12,000 inmates to take college courses.
“We all agree that crime must have consequences, but the men and women who have done their time and paid their debt deserve the opportunity to break with the past and forge new lives in their homes, workplaces ad communities,” said Education Secretary John B. King Jr., according to the Washington Post. “This belief in second chances is fundamental to who we are as Americans.”
Inmates in 27 states will be able to take advantage of the pilot program which will enroll them in a variety of online courses or classes inside of prison facilities moving forward. This plan goes directly against a controversial 1994 congressional ban on federal funds being spent on prison inmates. However, a new initiative to actually prevent prisoners from becoming repeat offenders – and data that shows education lowers the likelihood of inmates returning – have turned the tide.
“Helping incarcerated men and women to gain new knowledge, skills and credentials increases their chances of living successful lives, saves public dollars and makes our communities and our country safer and stronger,” King continued.
Inmates interested in taking advantage of the program will have to be within 5 years from eligibility of release.