Recidivism could be cut and public dollars could be saved if lawmakers lifted a longstanding federal ban on Pell grants to prisoners, academics, criminal justice reformers and former prisoners said at a Rutgers University program, reports Youth Today. John Farmer, former New Jersey attorney general and now Rutgers law school dean, called the restoration of Pell grants for prisoners “one of the most important dialogues we can have in the context of law enforcement.” He said, “I think that education in our prisons is the key to preventing recidivism.”
Farmer spoke last week at an event titled “Pell Grants and Prison Education: How Pell Grant Access in Prison Transforms Lives.” Among those who spoke in support of lifting the ban on Pell grants to prisoners was Dallas Pell, daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell, father of Pell grants. Pell, founder of an organization called Pell Grants for Public Safety, said providing education for individuals in prison is a “no-brainer” and “one of the most effective tools we have to make our community safe.” Pell and various speakers noted how studies have repeatedly found that higher education for prisoners significantly reduces their likelihood of returning to prison. The group that organized the discussion, The Education from the Inside Out Coalition, has approached key members of Congress and U.S. Education Department officials without success in an attempt to get them to reverse the 1994 ban on Pell grants for incarcerated individuals.