Dozens of sexual predators have taken higher education classes at taxpayer expense while confined to treatment centers, the Associated Press reports. Critics say they are using a loophole to receive Pell Grants, the nation’s premier financial aid program for low-income students. Prison inmates are ineligible for Pell Grants under a 1994 law. Students convicted of certain drug offenses are also ineligible. Sexual predators qualify once they are transferred from prison to treatment centers. “This is the most insane waste of taxpayer money that I have seen in my eight years in Congress,” said Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fl), who wants to stop the practice.
Some institutions report that sex offenders are putting the financial aid to questionable uses by buying such things as clothes, a DVD player and music CDs – sometimes, after they have dropped out of school. Keller’s proposal would affect 20 states that allow authorities to hold violent sex offenders indefinitely after they serve their prison sentences. Institutions and the government do not keep count of how much money sexual predators receive. The maximum Pell Grant is $4,310 per year. Some Democratic members of Congress and others say it would be counterproductive to bar education for sex offenders who are trying to rehabilitate themselves.