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Petitioning U.S. House of Representatives and 2 others

Increase Access to College for Individuals with Past Criminal Histories

Individuals with previous criminal justice involvement face many barriers to earning a higher education, which reduce the chances of positive life transformations and successful reentry into their communities.

For example, incarcerated students are not eligible for need-based grants, including Federal Pell Grants and state-level grants for postsecondary education within correctional institutions across the United States. Additionally, colleges and universities increasingly conduct criminal history screenings of applicants to these academic institutions.

While higher education is the most effective tool to reducing recidivism, it is the least explored. These barriers discourage and in many cases, outright prevent individuals who have had contact with the criminal justice system from transforming their lives through postsecondary education.

Allowing access to education for the incarcerated will: 

Reduce Recidivism: Many people leave prison unskilled and undereducated, both factors that correlate powerfully to recidivism rates, leaving them unprepared for life on the outside, and a risk to public safety.

Strengthen Underserved Communities: With ever-increasing prison sentences and recidivism rates, incarcerated people are released without the essential tools necessary for reintegration to society.

Increase Employment: Higher education for incarcerated people is valuable in a society where post-secondary credentials are increasingly necessary to gain access to living wage jobs.

Reduce Poverty: When parents participate in postsecondary education the likelihood their children will go to college increases, creating more opportunities for multiple generations to climb out of poverty.

Save Taxpayers Dollars: Taxpayers contribute to the $55,000 that it cost to incarcerate a person for one year. Upon their release, formerly incarcerated individuals would be further dependent on tax payer dollars without the advantage of higher education because they will have to depend on social services for survival.

Join the Education from the Inside Out Coalition in our call for federal intervention, aimed at increasing access to higher education for individuals with past criminal justice involvement, including formerly and currently incarcerated students.


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