College Education in Prison: Why it’s a Smart Choice for Everyone

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by Marsha Weissman, Executive Director of Center for Community Alternatives and Sandy Lane, Professor of Public Health and Anthropology, Syracuse University


In 1994, college education programs flourished in New York State – there were 23 colleges awarding degrees to people in 45 state prisons, funded partially through the national Pell grant program and its New York State equivalent, the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).  Then the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was passed, barring the eligibility of people in prison from the Pell grant program. The following year, even though the total amount of TAP funds awarded to students in prison amounted to less than 1% of all TAP funding for that year, Governor Pataki signed legislation that banned people in New York’s state prisons from TAP. Soon thereafter, the number of college education programs offered in New York State prisons was reduced from 45 to 4 as funding to support student enrollment dried up.

Author: eiocoalition

The Education from the Inside Out Coalition seeks to remove statutory and practical educational barriers for individuals with criminal justice involvement by educating policymakers and advocating for policy change. We work with federal, state and local government officials, along with educational institutions across the nation, providing technical assistance and other support.

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