Representatives from Asnuntuck Community College are in Washington, DC attending the inaugural convening of the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, which allows incarcerated students to receive federal Pell Grant funding for postsecondary education. Last month, the U.S. Department of Education announced the 69 selected colleges and universities that will provide postsecondary education to nearly 12,000 students in more than 100 state and federal prisons nationwide. Asnuntuck Community College was selected to participate in the program out of more than 200 applicants in 48 states.
In 1994, Pell Grant eligibility for students in state and federal prisons was eliminated as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education announced the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program to restore educational access for some of those individuals, improving their chances of successful and productive reentry after they are released.
The convening, which is hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera), features keynote presentations by Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates and U.S. Department of Education Secretary John B. King, who will also moderate a panel of students describing their college experiences in prison.
During the day-long conference, postsecondary and correctional leaders from the selected pilot programs will have the opportunity to share ideas and hear from leaders in the field of correctional education in preparation for developing and implementing new programs or expanding existing ones.
“Expanding educational opportunity for people who are incarcerated not only improves their lives, but strengthens our communities by preparing them to contribute to society rather than return to prison,” said Fred Patrick, director of Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections. “We are thrilled that Asnuntuck Community College is a partner in this important initiative to restore and expand access to college in prison.”
With support from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Vera is providing technical assistance to the selected Second Chance Pell sites as part of the Expanding Access to Postsecondary Education Project. The project aims to facilitate the implementation and scaling up of quality higher education programs in prisons and those that work with students after they return home, and to assist with the development of policies, procedures, and practices to increase the participation of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals in these programs.