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White House Plan To Let Inmates Access Pell Grants Earns Praise From Reform Advocates

Obama Will Announce Plan On Friday

Aimee (CC-BY)

Prison reform advocates in Wisconsin are applauding President Barack Obama’s plan to allow some prison inmates to receive federal Pell grants to take college courses.

Since Congress eliminated Pell grants for inmates in 1994, Wisconsin prisoners who want a college degree have had to pay for correspondence classes themselves. Linda Ketcham of Madison Urban Ministry, who runs programs to help ex-offenders find work, said recent studies have found that prisoners who take college courses are much less likely to commit new crimes when they’re released because they can find jobs that pay enough to support them.

“They could get a job that would allow them to live and allow them to make good on restitution on child support. Those are big things to somebody. They offer hope,” said Ketcham.

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Obama will announce the program on Friday. It’s not clear yet how many colleges will offer the new Pell Grants or how many prisoners will be eligible to receive them.