We have all seen the prison scenes in movies. It consists of a lot of people walking around a yard or sitting in a cell. The last thing I would think prisoners would be doing is taking college classes to get their degrees. One of the main reasons for this thought process is that while incarnated they are not making money and college is expensive! Some are trying to lift a ban to allow prisoners to be eligible for the Federal Pell Grants. It is called The Restoring Education And Learning Act of 2019 or the “REAL Act of 2019.”

The History

Before 1994 inmates could apply for Federal Pell Grants and get funding for their education and that is precisely what many of them did. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act which put an end to those that wanted to get their education while incarcerated. Since then many have tried to change this law, and none have yet been able to accomplish it.  Coalitions have been formed and petitions have been signed trying to make this change.

The Pros

Those that support bringing back Federal Aid to prisoners believe that it will save money for taxpayers in the long term. If someone is educated while in prison, they will have a better opportunity of getting a job once they have been released. With a better job than they had before going to jail, the hope is that they will be less likely to commit another crime. By cutting down on repeat offenders, it would mean there are fewer people in prison for taxpayers to support. Having an education could help with family relationships. They could get a good job upon their release and help the family recover; this would make a massive difference in their lives.

The Cons

Those that oppose bringing back the chance for prisoners to apply for Federal Aid to get an education feel that it would be taking money away from those that have never committed a crime. There is also a worry that the education they receive behind bars would still be overshadowed by the fact that they have a criminal record. Their record would make it harder for them to get the jobs that they studied for and waste the money that could have gone to another low-income student. One belief is if more money is put into early education, more students will stay in school and become functional members of society. In this scenario, the number of crimes that are committed will lessen, and the number of people in prison will decrease, ultimately saving tax payer’s money.

Education is the common factor between the two sides; this is one thing they both can agree to be true. Both sides see the great importance of education and how it can affect and change the lives of those that have the opportunity to receive it.

Get Out and Vote!
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