Starting in 1994 with the passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, students in state and federal prisons were barred from accessing Pell Grants, which provide financial aid for postsecondary education. In July 2016, the Second Chance Pell Experiment reinstated Pell Grant eligibility for some incarcerated students.
Vera is currently working with correctional institutions and their partnering colleges and universities selected for the experiment to provide quality postsecondary education in a corrections setting. This fact sheet is to inform corrections leaders of the benefits of postsecondary education and to explain how the Second Chance Pell Experiment works.
Postsecondary education programs in prison—which provide academic and career-technical courses—improve facility safety in addition to the reentry and workforce outcomes of participating students.
Incarcerated people who participate in prison education programs are 43 percent less likely to recidivate than those who do not.
Prisons with college programs have fewer violent incidents, creating safer working conditions for staff and safer living environments for incarcerated people.
When parents—including those who are incarcerated—complete college, their children are more likely to do so, thereby disrupting the typical cycle of poverty and incarceration.
More than 28 states are operating college programs in prison.
Every dollar invested in prison-based education yields $4 to $5 of taxpayer savings in reduced incarceration costs.
More than 100 prisons have academic and career technical programs up and running.
Making the Grade
Developing Quality Postsecondary Education Programs in Prison
With its July 2015 announcement of the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, the U.S. Department of Education ushered in what could be a new era of expanded opportunities for postsecondary education in our nation’s prisons. The Second Chance Pell Pilot makes students incarcerated in state and federal prisons eligible for need-based financial aid in a l...
Why Invest in College in Prisons?
The Vera Institute of Justice's Pathways Project is a five-year initiative that provides selected states with incentive funding and assistance to expand access to higher education for people in prison and those recently released.
Series: Gender and Justice in America
Women’s History Month Round-Up
Our Most Popular Posts on Gender and Justice
Women and girls are too often invisible in talks of criminal justice and reform. Although they comprise a minority of people who are incarcerated in the United States, they are a fast growing population, with unique entry points into the system. They also present different needs than men once there. The situation is particularly concerning for wome...