College Access Seen as Key to Curbing Recidivism

As the Obama administration stands ready to announce plans to open up Pell Grant eligibility to inmates, one group in particular is working to funnel more former inmates and gang members into college.

“Just because someone’s been locked up, just because they may be gang-involved doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have incredibly high expectations for these individuals or that we shouldn’t put forth every effort into getting them to and through college,” said Mark Culliton, CEO of College Bound Dorchester, an organization that works with high school dropouts and former gang members to get them into community college.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday in a speech about increasing access to higher education that “experimental sites” will begin allowing incarcerated individuals to be eligible for federal Pell Grants to take college courses.

Culliton says the move to educate those who have been incarcerated is critical to the forward progress of the nation’s economy and the security of individual neighborhoods.

“There’s this lost group of young people—6.7 million in this country right now—that are not engaged in college, not working” and generally not productively contributing to society but who are creating problems for the local communities in which they live, he said. <Read more.>

Via Autumn A. Arnett, Diverse Issues in Higher Education.