DearColleague.us

Letter

From: The Honorable Donna F. Edwards
Sent By: marc.rehmann@mail.house.gov
Bill: H.R. 2521
Date: 6/29/2015

Outside Groups: ACLU, Drug Policy Alliance, Education From the Inside Out Coalition, JustLeadershipUSA, Legal Action Center, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Prison Reform News, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, National Employment Law Project (NELP)
Cosponsors: Cardenas, Conyers, Davis, DeLauro, Grijalva, Hastings, Jeffries, Johnson (Hank), Kaptur, Kennedy, Lee, Lewis, Lieu, Lofgren, McGovern, Moore, Norton, Plaskett, Pocan Rangel, Richmond, Scott, Serrano
Let’s curb our nation’s high incarceration rate by educating our prison population. That is why we hope you will support our Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act, legislation that would reinstate Pell Grant eligibility for federal and state prisoners.
As you may be aware, from 1972 to 1995 prisoners who were not sentenced to death or life without parole could apply for Pell Grants. The push to include prisoners for Pell eligibility was consistent with the grant’s design to assist economically challenged Americans work toward post-secondary study and training.
A recent Washington Post article and an Education Department document show that 3,327,683 students nationwide received Pell grants in the 1993-94 school year. Of them, 25,168 were prisoners — fewer than 1 percent. The funding total for prisoners at that date, nine months into the school year, was $34.6 million out of $5.3 billion for the program overall. This was a very small percentage of funding that made an outsized difference. Prisoners who participate in correctional education programs are 43 percent less likely to return to prison and 13 percent more likely to have a job after finishing their sentence.
However, a provision in the 1994 omnibus crime bill that amended the 1965 Higher Education Act reversed this policy. And the 350 postsecondary prison programs in 37 states that existed two decades ago have been drastically reduced to about a dozen today. Subsequently, our state and federal population has increased by nearly 50 percent from 1 million to 1.5 million today.
Also, according to a recent Vera Institute study, it costs American taxpayers roughly $31,000 a year to house a prisoner. In Maryland, it costs taxpayers more than $38,000 a year to house a prisoner. Overall, our nation spends roughly $40 billion a year on correctional facilities. This comes despite a recent report by the RAND Corporation which found that for every $1 investment in prison education program there is a $4-5 dollar reduction in incarceration costs during the first three years post-release of a prisoner.
We understand that correcting this cyclical process of repeat incarceration will not be solved by education alone. However, we are hoping you can join us and help people who are incarcerated so they will have the opportunity to reintegrate as productive members of the community post-incarceration. For more information, please contact Marc Rehmann in Rep. Edwards’ office at Marc.Rehmann@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,
/s

Donna F. Edwards Danny K. Davis
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Rosa L. DeLauro Barbara Lee
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Robert C. “Bobby” Scott Cedric Richmond
Member of Congress Member of Congress