Skip to main content

Restoration of Prisoners' Pell Grant Eligibility

WHEREAS, incarceration rates are at historic highs, with the majority of prisoners in the United States being persons of color; and

WHEREAS, recidivism rates are increasing, with nearly seven-out-of-ten of all paroled prisoners being rearrested within three years of their release; and

WHEREAS, post-secondary correctional education has repeatedly proven to be one of the most effective rehabilitation opportunities in corrections, routinely reducing recidivism to less than 20% and many times to less than 10% for graduates; and

WHEREAS, post-secondary correctional education is one of the most economically efficacious program opportunities in corrections; and

WHEREAS, prior to their pell grant eligibility exclusion in 1994, prisoners of color composed approximately half of all post-secondary correctional education enrollments, thus people of color were disproportionately negatively impacted when prisoners were arbitrarily expelled from the pell grant program; and

WHEREAS, there are more Black males incarcerated in the nation's prisons than are enrolled on American college and university campuses; and

WHEREAS, higher education is the most important determinant of economic and professional success with degree-possessing parolees having the highest employment and wage rates of released prisoners; and

WHEREAS, the exclusion of prisoners from the pell grant program did not provide a single additional grant to traditional students, but expelled tens of­ thousands of prisoner-students from post-secondary correctional education programs, resulting in wholesale program closings and opportunity reductions across the nation; and

WHEREAS, restoration of prisoner pell grant eligibility will not deprive a single qualified traditional student of funding, will not substantially affect students' grant awards nor cause an overall program cost increase, while allowing thousands of prisoner-students to return to the edifying experience of college classrooms; and

WHEREAS, the American Higher Education Consortium, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education endorse the restoration of eligibility for financial aid for "disenfranchised populations, including prisoners"; and

WHEREAS, the Correctional Education Association, Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants, and the Institute for Higher Education Policy also advocate the restoration of prisoners' pell grant eligibility; and

WHEREAS, pell grant funding eligibility is crucial to expanded and equitable post-secondary education opportunities in United States' prisons.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls upon the Congress of the United States of America to enact legislation to restore prisoners' pell grant eligibility; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that all units and members meet with, educate and urge Congress to restore prisoners' pell grant eligibility; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that all units also educate their members on the encompassing socioeconomic benefits of providing higher education opportunities to prisoners; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that these units avail themselves of opportunities to educate others about these benefits.