LAC is pleased to report that last week, Rep. Donna Edwards, along with Reps. Danny K. Davis, Barbara Lee , Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Rosa L. DeLauro, and Cedric L. Richmond, introduced the Restoring Education and Learning Act (REAL Act), legislation that would restore Pell Grant eligibility for students learning in prison.
LAC has fought to restore Pell Grant eligibility in prison and for other policies to expand educational opportunities for people with criminal justice involvement. Education empowers people to take control of their lives and gives them the tools to succeed at work. Higher education also lowers recidivism rates, which creates cost savings for law enforcement and correctional systems. Barriers to education undermine successful reentry and prevent people from fulfilling their potential.
According to Rep. Donna Edwards:
“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. We know that helping economically challenged individuals work toward post-secondary study and training provides a better future for all Americans. We should provide such opportunities to all to ensure that the cyclical process of repeat incarceration does not continue.”
The law denying Pell Grant eligibility for students in prison went into effect in 1995. Since that time the number of in-prison college programs dropped from 350 to 12, a devastating reduction in the opportunities available to people in prison who want to improve themselves and their prospects in the economy. As Rep. Danny Davis says:
“A lack of federal funding is the primary barrier to correctional education. This is another reason why we need to expand Pell Grants and restore eligibility for the incarcerated. Expanding and restoring Pell is a common-sense federal investment that dramatically increases successful reentry and builds stronger communities and families.”
We could not have said it better. LAC will continue to fight to restore Pell Grant eligibility and is pleased to support the REAL Act of 2015.