A New York Times article explores the recent bipartisan push for restoring the ability of people who are incarcerated to receive Pell grants, a postsecondary federal aid program for low-income undergraduates, under a program called Second Chance Pell. Initially piloted under the Obama administration, the federal initiative has continued through the Trump administration as part of its work to end mass incarceration and reduce recidivism.
A primary focus of the article is a Second Chance Pell recipient named Maurice Smith, who was able to complete his bachelor’s degree at Goucher College as part of the Goucher Prison Education Partnership with the Maryland Correctional Institution. After being released from prison in March, Smith attended the Goucher College commencement ceremony, graduating magna cum laude with a B.A. in American studies.
In the article, education correspondent Erica L. Green writes:
“About 90 percent of the country’s two million prisoners will be released back into society. A report published in January by the Vera Institute of Justicefound that expanding Pell grants to prisoners would result in higher earnings when they are released, and save states $365.8 million each year in incarceration costs.”
The Vera Institute is a two-time grantee of the Art for Justice Fund, receiving grants as part of our Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 cohorts, with one grant focused on supporting state-based campaigns to expand higher education programs for incarcerated students and lifting restrictions that prevent formerly incarcerated students from receiving education grants.