The Department of Education has announced that 67 colleges and universities throughout the United States will participate in the new Second Chance Pell, a pilot program that aims to provide financial aid to incarcerated people. The selected colleges and universities will partner with over 100 federal and state penal institutions to provide college education and training programs to more than 12,000 eligible inmates.

The program will allow incarcerated individuals to pursue a college education that will help them get jobs and support their families upon release. Such programs have impacted the lives of inmates by reducing recidivism rates and cutting re-incarceration costs.

A 2013 study by the RAND Corporation found that inmates who participated in educational programs were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years compared to inmates who did not participate in these programs. In addition, the RAND study found that every dollar invested in correctional educational programs saved taxpayers four to five dollars on re-incarceration costs.

“The evidence is clear. Promoting the education and job training for incarcerated individuals makes communities safer by reducing recidivism, and saves taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “I applaud the institutions that have partnered to develop high-quality programs that will equip these students with knowledge and skills (to) promote successful reintegration and enable them become active and engaged citizens.”

The program also provides academic, career, and social support services to meet the unique challenges incarcerated individuals face in completing a college education.

Jowelle M. is a college student interested in sociology, political science, and Spanish. Aside from academics, Jowelle enjoys blogging, reading, music, and spending time with family. She is happiest when she is working with others to improve the community.