The Pell Grant program, a Federal grant for students with financial need, has been expanded to include individuals enrolled in participating programs while in prison. This is a huge step forward to breaking the cycle of recidivism and helping incarcerated people successfully re-enter society.
What the Re-introduction of Second Chance Pell Grants means for Incarcerated People
Recently, the U.S. Department of Education announced actions to help incarcerated individuals access educational programs as part of the broader efforts to support reentry and empower formerly incarcerated people. This was passed under the Trump-Pence administration and implemented under the Biden-Harris administration.
A vital component of these efforts is the reintroduction of Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals, which have been shown to have a significant impact on reducing recidivism and helping formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reintegrate into society.
This expansion lets all schools participate in the Pell Program, widening access to funds for higher education nationwide.
One of the biggest criticisms of the current justice system is the likelihood of recidivism. A recent study shows that up to 76.6% of released prisoners are rearrested within five years, based on the state, population, and other factors (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2021). Without the skills and knowledge required to hold a job and make a living, many formerly incarcerated people end up reoffending or living on the streets.
Education has been proven to be an effective way to combat recidivism. The Northwestern Prison Education program reports a “43% reduction in recidivism rates for those prisoners who participate in prison education programs.” By gaining skills relevant to today’s workforce, incarcerated people are more likely to have a successful re-entry to society.
“It’s also good for the public,” says Nucleos CEO Noah Freedman. “Successful re-entry of formerly incarcerated people means less crime and homelessness, making our neighborhoods safer. It also means less prison spending and larger government budgets for critical services”. The Vera Institute of Justice says that post-secondary education for people in prison could reduce spending by as much as $365.8 million.
Nucleos can help departments of corrections access Pell Grants. The Nucleos Learning Platform gives its learners access to various educational and vocational training opportunities, including universities with access to the Second Chance Pell Grant Program. The program's reintroduction, announced in April 2022, is set to be available again in July 2023.
The reintroduction of Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals is an investment in the future. It is an opportunity to break cycles of recidivism, reduce crime and homelessness, and empower individuals to succeed after incarceration. By providing access to education for individuals who are incarcerated, a safer, smarter, and more productive society can be built.