Dems push reinstating Pell Grants for prisoners

A group of House Democrats wants to make federal and state prisoners eligible for Pell Grants to pay for higher education.

Reps. Donna Edwards (Md.), Danny Davis (Ill.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Bobby Scott (Va.), Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) and Cedric Richmond (La.) introduced legislation this week titled the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act that would allow prison inmates to apply for the grants.

Until 1995, incarcerated people who hadn’t received death or life sentences without parole could seek Pell Grants. But a 1994 crime bill ended that policy.

{mosads}The lawmakers argued that giving people convicted of crimes a chance to expand their education could help reduce recidivism.

“The REAL Act is about restoring education opportunities for our nation’s prisoners so they will have the opportunity to reintegrate as productive members of the community post-incarceration,” Edwards, who is running for Senate, said in a statement.

Scott, the top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said that the Pell Grants would amount to less than future costs of imprisonment.

“We have a choice: reduce crime and save money, or suffer increased crime and spend more money. This bill chooses to reduce crime and save money,” Scott said.

The measure has been endorsed by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Drug Policy Alliance and NAACP Legal Defense Fund. 

Tags Bobby Scott Pell Grants Prison reform

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