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It’s time for Congress to lift the ban on Pell Grants for people in prison

It’s time for Congress to lift the ban on Pell Grants for people in prison

Date: October 28, 2019

Congress should finally take action and lift a ban that prevents people in prison from accessing Pell Grants to advance their own education. The current version of the College Affordability Act includes a provision to lift this ban for all people in prison, including those serving life sentences. In a recent commentary in The Hill, John Wetzel, Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and Dr. Stanely Andrisse, endocrinologist scientist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, explain why access to post-secondary education is important for everyone:

“Access to postsecondary education is just as important for those serving life sentences. These individuals are often seen as leaders and mentors, and they play a central role in setting the tone and shaping the futures of people who will return home to our communities. When these leaders participate in educational programming, others follow suit, which creates safer environments for both incarcerated people and corrections professionals.

Postsecondary education isn’t some “perk” for people in prison. It’s an extraordinarily necessary and powerful investment in the futures of our own communities. According to the Vera and Georgetown research, the employment rates of formerly incarcerated people who accessed postsecondary education are 10 percent higher than those who did not. That translates into an estimated $45.3 million increase in wages for formerly incarcerated people during their first year after release alone. Increased employment and increased revenue are good for our communities, and they contribute to reducing costly recidivism rates.”

Read the full commentary on The Hill here.