I read an interesting article about the Obama Administration’s plan to restore Pell grants for prisoners. Pell Grants is a federal financial aid program that typically provides awards (do not have to be returned- like a scholarship) to undergraduate students from low socioeconomic backgrounds (financial need). This programs helps to increase access to education for those who are unable to pay for college. Prior to 1994 inmates had some access to state and federal funds to cover education related expenses including tuition and books but in ’94 a new law prohibited the use of Pell Grants for prisoners.
Obama administration’s plan to restore Pell Grants will once again provide educational funds to some prisoners. The program will be a small piloted program that will allow a limited number for colleges and institutions to deliver courses at prisons. The money will directly be given to the institutions. The main goal of the program is to equip incarcerated individuals with skills that will allow them to succeed in the society and will make them productive members once they have completed their time in the prisons.
Although there have been many advocates of this program, this initiatives is receiving criticisms from many fronts. One of such criticisms is that the money that will be awarded to prisoners should be directed towards low income students. I believe that this is a great initiative. Access to education should be available to all regardless of their background, criminal history and socio economic status. I am assuming that individuals who leave prisons have a tough time adjusting to the society as is ( that’s why so many end up back in prisons) and with out the necessary credentials or vocational skills (to keep up with the pace of the society) they would have a harder time finding their place.
If you are interested in learning more about the Obama Administration’s Plan here are some helpful cites:
1)Obama to extend college aid grants to some prison inmates
2) Obama Poised to Give Financial Aid to Federal, State prisoners
3)Obama’s Plan to Restore Pell Grants for Prisoners Gets Mixed Reviews
December 2, 2015 @ 10:20 pm
I think it’s a great initiative. While I understand the critics of such a move and their argument (that low income students need more help), I also think that the prison system will be better at reforming inmates if the inmates have an access to quality education. The overarching question still will be – ‘Should inmates be preferred over low income students?’ but dignity of a person, incarcerated or not should not factor into an argument for or against this move.