Educational aids to prisoners work. But it is politically unstable.
The recent Pelle Grant proposal is not the first time the government has turned to federal student aid and higher education to address the problem of recidivism. provided such assistance. However, despite being in effect for decades, the 1994 Criminal Code revoked inmates’ access to Pell grants. At the time, politicians from both major parties portrayed the aid as a handout to “worthless” people to galvanize support for other smaller governments’ “crime-hard” policies, Successful. Looking back at this history, the survival of federal aid programs for educating inmates has always depended more on public opinion than on the actual success of these programs, which have proven to be highly effective. You can see what you’ve been up to.
Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), signed by Johnson, first gave inmates federal support for postsecondary education. The HEA’s goal was to provide federal financial assistance to college students from low-income families. Some HEAs have set up student loans as an option to cover college costs, but have also expanded federal financial assistance to offset tuition fees. Based on eligibility requirements, inmates seeking higher education while incarcerated can take advantage of this student aid.
The HEA is one of many laws that reflect Johnson’s efforts to build a “great society” that can eradicate poverty, reduce crime and eliminate inequality. The same year Johnson signed his HEA, he also passed the Law Enforcement Assistance Act as part of his “fighting crime,” increasing federal funding to local and state law enforcement agencies. Johnson envisioned these laws working in tandem, but the policy of war against these crimes undermined Pell Grant his initiative for the HEA in the decades that followed.
By the 1970s, the total number of Americans awarded Pell grants skyrocketed, from hundreds of thousands of students to more than two million. Most federal student aid provided opportunities for college students from low-income families outside the prison system. Only about 1% of federal student aid went to incarcerated students. Still, the influx of aid has dramatically expanded higher education programs in prisons. Between 1973 and 1982, the number of prison programs, including college extension programs in communications, criminal justice, and psychology, nearly doubled from 182 to 350.
For prison officials and advocates, the Pell Grant for Prisoners has been a promising success. Inmates participating in secondary education programs were well behaved and detainees viewed them as “manageable.” These factors, including participation in and completion of higher education programs, supported attempts to seek parole. Programs across the country also reported a 57% reduction in inmate and student recidivism. One program, which once reported an 80% recidivism rate, notes that the opportunity for prison education reduced his recidivism rate to 10% in the early 1980s. According to ex-convict, scholar and award-winning author John Mark Taylor, unemployment was a major factor in increasing recidivism rates. But three of his four of the inmates with some higher education were able to find sustainable employment within his first three years of critical post-release.
Although this evidence indicated that the program was successful, the effectiveness of the Pell subsidies for inmates was at odds with conservatives who worked to restrict inmates’ access to higher education funding, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. For example, in 1982, Rep. George Whitehurst (R-V.A.) attempted to set a $6 million cap on financial aid allocated to inmates, but Democrats ruled. Rejected by the House of Representatives. President Ronald Reagan cut federal spending on higher education by 25 percent, including Pell Grant spending, and expanded student and parent responsibility for paying college costs. But even with the cut in funding, the Pell grant remained and inmates continued to benefit.
That changed in the 1990s. A new era of bipartisan support for smaller government “crime-hard” laws has made federal Pell Grants for prisoners a highly vulnerable political target. argued that they were effectively diverting student aid to non-criminal students. The argument garnered broad support among working-class and middle-class families who, thanks to Reagan-era budget cuts, were increasingly burdened with tuition fees.
Voters began to see prison education as a scholarship to commit crimes. “In 60 minutes” In a television segment called “Prison U,” Massachusetts Governor William Weld (R) said, as he put it, “selling drugs, killing someone, raping someone, going to jail, free money.” educated in.” He continued: ”
In another example, NBC’s “Dateline” In 1994 it published a special report entitled “Society’s Debt?” It pitted a deserving college student who was denied a Pell Grant against a “lucky” inmate student who received one. A full-time college student expressed frustration with the supposedly easy life of an inmate, and he and students like him had to balance work and school. “Prisoners,” he said. what do i have I have school, I have a job, and a bed he sees 4-5 hours a night.
On another occasion, Senator Jesse Helms (RN.C.) read a letter from a father while addressing the Senate. When his family discovered that rejected inmates were receiving financial assistance, he decided that since post-secondary education in prison would be free, he would supply the children with weapons and commit crimes. I suggested that it should be sent to
The 1994 Crime Bill reflected this public dissatisfaction with inmates’ Pell Grant eligibility. This consequential law not only increased the prison population, but also prevented inmates from receiving financial aid for higher education. It accounted for $56 million of the $9.3 billion allocated for higher education aid. Within three years of the passage of the crime bill, he had only eight prison higher education programs left.
However, access to financial aid for all students did not improve after this change in law. From 1990 to 2010, state subsidies for higher education decreased by 26%. During her 20 years, the institution made up for the loss of funding by nearly doubling the tuition and fees students had to pay. Despite a modest increase in Pell Grant funding in the 2000s, significant increases in higher education costs have reduced the value of financial aid.
In response to the crisis in higher education caused by this imbalance, President Biden, who supported the 1994 crime bill as a Senator, doubled the Pell Grant’s budget and once again increased subsidies to inmates. proposed.
As history shows, when access to higher education feels out of reach for many Americans, it’s easy to sway public opinion negatively about prison Pell Grants. Eliminating Pell subsidies did not increase financial assistance to out-of-incarceration students. If anything, it just means more prison spending due to higher recidivism rates. Instead, increasing access across the board, including those incarcerated, will make college more accessible to working-class Americans.