Ending Mass IncarcerationBringing Dignity to Life Behind Bars

Higher Education

The U.S. labor market is changing fast. By 2018, an estimated two-thirds of job postings will require some level of postsecondary education. For incarcerated men and women already disadvantaged in the job market, higher education truly is a key to success after release.

Our pilot program in three states yielded lessons and evidence that the federal Department of Education and corrections agencies and colleges and universities around the country are now using to bring college into prison and continue to support people in their studies for two years after release. It’s an investment in personal transformation that pays off in increased employment and income—a boon for low-income families and communities—and no surprise, recidivism rates that studies suggest are as much as 72 percent lower.

Related Work

Lessons from Second Chance Pell

A Toolkit for Helping Incarcerated Students Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education announced the Second Chance Pell (SCP) experiment under the Experimental Sites Initiative, which allows incarcerated students who would be eligible for Pell Grants—a form of federal financial aid—if they were not incarcerated to access them while attending an eligible academic program offered by one of the ...

Publication
  • ​Allan Wachendorfer, Michael Budke
April 03, 2020
Publication
Getty Images: Joe Raedle

Series: Target 2020

A Monumental Missed Opportunity for Criminal Justice

Vera President, Nick Turner, reflects on fifth round of debates.

Twenty-five years past the 1994 crime bill, we are ready to talk about a new paradigm to address harm and wrongdoing that seeks to provide safety for all communities, does not peddle in fear and racism, and does not mistake excessive punitiveness for accountability. For the people, as we say. We note that the criminal legal system is 90 percent sta ...

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  • Nicholas Turner
    Nicholas Turner
November 25, 2019
Blog Post

A Piece of the Puzzle

State Financial Aid for Incarcerated Students

Postsecondary education in prison puts people on a path toward a brighter future by disrupting the cycle of poverty and incarceration. But it has not been offered at scale due to the numerous barriers—including the 1994 ban on Pell Grants to people in prison—that prevent students and postsecondary institutions from accessing state and federal fundi ...

Publication
  • Lauren Hobby, Brian Walsh, Ruth Delaney
July 11, 2019
Publication

Vera mourns the loss of our colleague and justice champion Fred Patrick, and honors his life and legacy

We lost a good man this weekend. It is with profound sadness that we share news of the passing of our beloved colleague and friend Fred Patrick, director of our Center on Sentencing and Corrections (CSC). A mentor to many staff at Vera, Fred was a passionate and tireless advocate for a more just and humane criminal justice system. A son of Baton R ...

Blog Post
  • Vera Institute  of Justice
    Vera Institute of Justice
July 02, 2019
Blog Post

Growing Momentum to Expand Access to Quality Postsecondary Education for People in Prison

Postsecondary education in prison cuts costs, which provides opportunities to reinvest in communities. “Safer communities” is another way of saying less crime and less taxpayer dollars spent on prisons. According to the findings of Vera’s 2015 “Price of Prisons” report, states spend upward of $45 billion a year incarcerating people, but continue to ...

Blog Post
  • Fred Patrick
    Fred Patrick
June 18, 2019
Blog Post