Prisoners get a second chance

By: For the Daily Journal

Northeastern Technical College is one of 64 colleges participating in the U.S. Department of Education’s Second Chance Pell Program. The program allows eligible incarcerated individuals to receive Pell Grants to pursue postsecondary education.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with approximately 2.2 million people behind bars in prisons and jails. 95% of those individuals will get released back into their communities.

NETC is partnering with correctional facilities in Marlboro County to provide educational and career opportunities to incarnated individuals while they are serving their sentences. The goal is to help them find jobs so they can support their families after they are released. The RAND Corporation performed research in 2013 that found that incarcerated individuals who participated in correctional education were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years than prisoners who did not participate in any correctional education programs.

NETC’s goal is to offer degree and certification programs where released individuals can find work immediately. Culinary Arts, Barbering, Welding, Machine Tooling, and CDL Training will help reduce recidivism in the area.

Dr. Mark Bunch, Dean of Continuing Education at NETC, attended an annual meeting of supporters of the Second Chance Pell pilot program in Washington, DC.

Attendees discussed qualifications for federal aid in prison and what factors, such as convictions and length of sentences, should determine eligibility. Reinstating federal aid for incarcerated students, lifting a quarter-century ban on the grants in prisons, was a focus of the meeting.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also attended the annual meeting affirming her support for the program. “It’s Congress’s chance to act and do its job to make sure to extend this opportunity in a very sustainable and predictable way to many more people across our country,” DeVos said.

The Trump administration is committed to creating a fairer and more effective criminal justice system, reducing recidivism, and combating the impact of mass incarceration on families and communities through educational opportunity.

For the Daily Journal