The article reports:
The plan, set to be unveiled Friday by the secretary of education and the attorney general, would allow potentially thousands of inmates in the U.S. to gain access to Pell grants, the main form of federal aid for low-income college students. The grants cover up to $5,775 a year in tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses.
Prisoners received $34 million in Pell grants in 1993, according to figures the Department of Education provided to Congress at the time. But a year later, Congress prohibited state and federal prison inmates from getting Pell grants as part of broad anticrime legislation, leading to a sharp drop in the number of in-prison college programs. Supporters of the ban contended federal aid should only go to law-abiding citizens.
Shouldn’t Congress be the group to make this decision? The goal is to educate prisoners so that they can get jobs when they leave prison. The theory is that an educated prisoner is less likely to return to prison. That is the theory, but it seems to me that this is another example of rewarding bad behavior. What about the middle-class families struggling to pay for their children’s education? Shouldn’t we make more money available to them rather than to prisoners?
The article reports:
Stephen Steurer, head of the Correctional Education Association, an advocacy group, said two Education Department officials told him at a conferenceearly this month the agency was moving to restore Pell grants for prisoners and allow many colleges and universities to participate. Money from the grants would directly reimburse institutions for the cost of delivering courses in prisons rather than go to prisoners, Mr. Steurer said.
“It will be substantial enough to create some data and to create enough information for some evaluation,” said Rep. Danny Davis (D., Ill.), who is co-sponsoring a bill with Rep. Donna Edwards (D., Md.) to permanently restore Pell grants for prisoners.
Let’s let Congress vote on this bill–it shouldn’t be done by the President.