The U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday that 73 new colleges, including two in California, would join the Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative to provide federal financial aid to people in state and federal prisons.
This by far is some of the best news that we have heard in regards to prison reform and resources for incarcerated individuals in a long time.
“Access to high-quality postsecondary education is essential to incarcerated individuals, but for far too long, people in prison were left out,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “The expansion of Second Chance Pell and these new pathways out of default are critical steps for incarcerated individuals to be able to access educational opportunities that will provide second chances to build a future.”
New College options for the incarcerated
Many times over it has been proven that given the chance to get a college education in prison has long-lasting effects and severely reduces recidivism among those incarcerated. It’s actually cheaper to give someone incarcerated a diploma than to have them back for a second, or third sentence later on.
San Diego State and San Francisco State are the two latest California institutions to join the program. We applaud their move to help educate those incarcerated.
Currently, there are 130 colleges and universities across 42 states and Washington, D.C., participating in the Second Chance program. Congress passed federal legislation in 2020 restoring Pell eligibility to all people in U.S. prisons starting July 2023.
The Second Chance Pell Experiment, which was first established in 2015 by the Obama-Biden administration, has provided Pell Grants to enable students to earn degrees and skills. In its first four years, over 7,000 students received bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees or technical certificates or diplomas.
On average the sentencing commission along with the DOJ states that a college diploma decreases the likelihood of someone coming back to prison by about 30%, which is an absolutely massive number.