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Wakeman: Educating nonviolent prisoners will save tax dollars
RELEASE|September 1, 2020

Resolution calls for reversal of federal ban on Pell grants for inmates

State Rep. Rodney Wakeman, of Saginaw Township, today testified before the House Education Committee in support of his resolution urging the United States Congress to repeal the federal ban on Pell grants for prison-based education.

In 1994, Congress passed a measure that denied federal financial aid to all prisoners, making it less likely for prisoners to obtain an education while incarcerated. In 2016, three Michigan colleges – Delta College, Mott Community College and Jackson College – reengaged in the initiative, participating in a pilot program that offers postsecondary education and training programs for people who have served their sentences and are looking to reenter society. Delta College is currently offering courses at the Saginaw Correctional Facility located in Wakeman’s district.

“People serving a sentence for non-violent offenses should be using their time served as productively as possible,” Wakeman said. “Upon the completion of their sentence, it should be the goal of government to help people have a smooth transition back into society and ultimately reduce the likelihood of them reoffending. We live in a nation of second chances. Giving people an opportunity to redeem themselves will lead to safer and more productive communities.”

Wakeman said research indicates postsecondary education and training programs lead to lower recidivism rates, less crime and improved public safety. Incarcerated people who participate in education and training programs are 43 percent less likely to reoffend than those who do not participate, according to a 2013 report from the Rand Corporation. A recent study by the Rand Corporation also found prison education to be cost-effective, indicating every dollar invested in prison education yields between $4-5 in taxpayer savings in reduced incarceration costs.

House Resolution 234 remains in the House Education Committee for further consideration.

State Rep. Rodney Wakeman, of Saginaw Township, testifies before the House Education Committee in support of his resolution urging Congress to repeal the federal ban on Pell grants for prison-based education on Tuesday.
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