STATEMENT FROM CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM ADVOCATE, VIVIAN NIXON ON THE INTRODUCTION OF FEDERAL LEGISLATION THAT WOULD PERMENANTELY REINSTATE PELL GRANTS TO INCARCERATED STUDENTS
Thursday, June 30, 2016 (NEW YORK) – On the heels of President Obama’s announcement to temporarily reinstate Pell Grants to incarcerated students through the Department of Education’s Experimental Sites Initiative, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced legislation The Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act S.3122, which if passed, could see a long-term solution to in-prison educational access.
“Today the Education from the Inside Out Coalition applauds Senator Brian Schatz for introducing legislation, that if passed will continue the trend of meaningful criminal justice reform. Since 2008, EIO has been tirelessly urging Congress to repeal the ban on Pell Grant eligibility. Last year our efforts began to pay off as the REAL Act was introduced in the House, and the Administration announced the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program. The Senate bill continues to build on the momentum to restore access to higher education to incarcerated students which will improve their lives, reduce recidivism, and strengthen our communities”
It is the sister bill to H.R. 2521, which was introduced in the House of Representatives by Donna Edwards (MD-4) on May 21st, 2015.
The bill’s co-sponsors include Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-VT), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen Ben. Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR).
About Vivian Nixon: The Reverend Vivian Nixon is Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship(CCF), an organization committed to removing individual and structural barriers to higher education for women with criminal record histories and their families. As a formerly incarcerated woman and prior CCF program participant, Rev. Nixon is uniquely positioned to lead the charge to help justice-involved women and their families have a better future. While incarcerated, Rev. Nixon spent time as a peer educator for the adult basic education program at Albion State Correctional Facility in New York. Following her release, she was ordained by the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) and currently serves as an associate minister at Mt. Zion AMEC in New York City. She is a Columbia University Community Scholar and a recipient of the John Jay Medal for Justice, the Ascend Fellowship at the Aspen Institute, the Soros Justice Fellowship, and the Petra Foundation Fellowship. She is a co-founder of theEducation from the Inside Out Coalition (EIO), a collaborative effort to increase access to higher education for justice-involved students and serves on the advisory board of JustLeadershipUSA. Rev. Nixon holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York Empire College.