Ending Mass IncarcerationProviding Second Chances

Post-Secondary 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

From Corrections to College in California

An Evaluation of Student Support During and After Incarceration

California is a national leader in providing higher education to justice-involved people. A key driver of this movement has been the Renewing Communities initiative, a joint project of the Opportunity Institute and the Stanford Criminal Justice Center that sought to expand access to higher education among justice-involved people in California, both ...

Publication
  • Lionel Smith, Léon Digard
June 10, 2020
Publication

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

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