Pell Grants for Prisoners
July 28, 2015 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced Monday that the White House will take advantage of a loophole in the 1994 law that banned incarcerated Americans from using Pell Grants to pay for college, "developing experimental sites that will make Pell grants available" to prisoners.

This move, which has long had the backing of philanthropists and lawmakers, will be announced Friday with the staff of the Goucher College Prison Education Program in Jessup, Maryland. After three to five years of data-gathering, Democrats and the White House hope that the ban will be completely eliminated. (Previous data gathered by the Three State Recidivism Study and the RAND Corporation suggests that college educations are cost-saving measures that significantly reduce re-offence and re-incarceration.)

Previously: Higher Education Inside and The liberal arts teach the techniques of freedom.
posted by anotherpanacea (19 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Good.
posted by wintersweet at 8:41 AM on July 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


The sooner we take rehabilitation and reintegration seriously, the sooner we'll see a drop in re-offending rates. Everyone wins.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:42 AM on July 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


Dislike having to use a loophole, because that sort of thing can get closed too easily, but if that's the only way to do it, then use it.
posted by eriko at 8:43 AM on July 28, 2015


This makes so much sense that the only reason this won't be greeted with cheers from all sides is if people aren't interested in reducing crime, helping society, or saving money and are only interested in punishing people in any aspect of their lives they can.

Uh-oh.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:46 AM on July 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


Won't someone please think of the owners of the privately owned prisons?
posted by SansPoint at 8:47 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's awesome that we are taking steps to make convicts less stigmatized. Giving them access to services they need that are available to ordinary people is great.

I have a slight misgiving, though: how many of these grants will wind up going to predatory aid farms? What kind of education will actually be provided, especially if (as seems to be the case) prisoners still won't be able to enroll in most institutions? Even among non-imprisoned Americans, a lot of student aid seems to get funneled into low-return for-profit shops. This is a known problem that seems difficult to address (but see). I suspect that the problem will be much worse for the population of prisoners than for the general population.
posted by grobstein at 9:01 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


grobstein, while no one yet knows the details (likely still being hammered out), because of the focus on "experimental sites," it will likely only involve established college programs for the time being. This likely means the Bard Prison Initiative's umbrella of programs through Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Grinnell College in Iowa, Goucher College in Maryland, and the University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College in Indiana. They also planned to start ten more programs in the next five years that would also be impacted.

It might also include some of the few community college programs that exist in some states, and maybe a few other kinds of tests.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:05 AM on July 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


This likely means the Bard Prison Initiative's umbrella of programs through Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Grinnell College in Iowa, Goucher College in Maryland, and the University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College in Indiana.

I can't wait to see what the University of Miami has to say about that.
posted by Etrigan at 9:12 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


after the Corinthian hullaboo awful-ness, i think Arne Duncan and his ilk will be very much on the lookout for Pell Grant money ending up in for-profit "college".

i certainly hope so, at least.
posted by sio42 at 9:36 AM on July 28, 2015


"here, have some of those bootstraps we keep telling you pull yourself up by"
posted by sio42 at 9:37 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


after the Corinthian hullaboo awful-ness, i think Arne Duncan and his ilk will be very much on the lookout for Pell Grant money ending up in for-profit "college".

i certainly hope so, at least.


Arne "Never Met An Education 'Reformer' He Didn't Like" Duncan? You're kidding, right?
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:43 AM on July 28, 2015


America doesn't have a reform system, it has a punishment system. Glad to see some small attempt being made to elevate the former mission over the latter.
posted by absalom at 9:44 AM on July 28, 2015


I only wonder what education will be on offer. For profit education is still the norm. I hope (pray) that these interventions are done by people who already work with prisoners to assist them when they are released. Prisoners already learn a lot in prison, even complete vocations. I work with an ex-offender residential program in Dudley, England and know they come out with a record they can't deny and no tools to do the job. This creates a staggering situation that not even Pell grants can theoretically fix. This requires professionals not just ventures looking to cash in.
posted by parmanparman at 9:51 AM on July 28, 2015


Second term Obama is the Most Fun Obama!
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:11 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I should probably say this in other threads of Obama as well...

While I have a slew of sharp critiques towards Obama (extra-judicial assasinations via drones, lack of promised transparency, refusal to investigate torture, NSA spying, etc, etc), I generally forget to mention in these critiques that Obama is easily the best president I've had in my lifetime, and I'm thankful that he got elected.

This is another data-point towards that.
posted by el io at 10:25 AM on July 28, 2015


This makes so much sense that the only reason this won't be greeted with cheers from all sides is if people aren't interested in reducing crime, helping society, or saving money and are only interested in punishing people in any aspect of their lives they can.

To be especially clear, people are not even all that interested in punishing people, they're interested in creating and maintaining an underclass. People in power think that civil rights are a zero sum game.
posted by capricorn at 10:57 AM on July 28, 2015


Will this mean any change in whether drug-offenders can get student aid?
posted by daHIFI at 12:33 PM on July 28, 2015


after the Corinthian hullaboo awful-ness, i think Arne Duncan and his ilk will be very much on the lookout for Pell Grant money ending up in for-profit "college".

i certainly hope so, at least.

Arne "Never Met An Education 'Reformer' He Didn't Like" Duncan? You're kidding, right?
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:43 PM on July 28 [+][!]
i meant bc the fallout from that is pretty public and costing lots of money since those students are getting either loan forgiveness or some other types of deals on their student loans.

so i think it's just on the radar that doing stuff with for-profits would be bad PR, because that's probably the only way they can think about it.
posted by sio42 at 12:38 PM on July 28, 2015


Hey look! I made it into the Marshall Project!

Obama is Reinstating Pell Grants for Prisoners.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:02 AM on July 31, 2015


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