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Abolition of Pell Grants for Higher Education of Prisoners: Examining Antecedents and Consequences

NCJ Number
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation Volume: 39 Issue: 2 Dated: 2004 Pages: 73-85
Charles B. A. Ubah
Nathaniel J. Pallone Ph.D.
Date Published
13 pages
This article examines the consequences of abolishing Federal Pell Grants for prison inmates' college education.
The Pell Grant, a Federal grant subsidizing college education costs for poor families, was extended to prison inmates during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. This article examines in detail the history of Pell Grants for prison inmate education, as well as the political context of these grants and the efforts to have them removed. The grants were finally removed from prisons with the passage of the 1993 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and the Higher Education Reauthorization Act of 1994. Researchers have noted that the elimination of these grants is an indication that voters and legislators have chosen inmates' recidivism over inmates' rehabilitation and successful reintegration into the community. The elimination of the grants has led to further reductions in inmate education in general and post-secondary education in particular. Internal prison factors have also contributed to the decrease in educational programs for inmates. To date, there has been little research examining the changes in prison education as a result of reduced funding, and there has been no published research that attempts to determine how these recent changes have affected the recidivism of previously incarcerated and released offenders. Future research is recommended to investigate the effects of prison-based education on offender recidivism and to investigate the effects of external changes (loss of Pell Grants) on correctional education and on offender recidivism. References


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