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Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative Update

June 08, 2018

By Alex Boldin, Vera Institute of Justice

Veri Institute of Justice

Postsecondary education in prison has been shown to contribute to successful reentry for people who shave been incarcerated, while promoting public safety. The Second Chance Pell (SCP) Experimental Sites Initiative, launched by the U.S. Department of Education in 2015, provides need-based Pell grants to people in state and federal prisons through partnerships with 65 colleges in 27 states. The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) is providing technical assistance to the participating colleges and corrections departments, helping to ensure that these programs are providing quality higher education both in prison and post release. This fact sheet outlines the outcomes through fall 2017—both in expanding enrollment, course offerings, and degrees awarded—as a result of the initiative.

Key Takeaway

Colleges participating in SCP are offering a growing variety of certificates and degree-granting programs to an increasing number of incarcerated students, leading to 954 credentials issued since the start of the initiative.

Publication Highlights

  • People who participate in postsecondary education in prison describe the experience as transformative and become positive role models in prison.
  • People who participate in education programs in prison are more likely to be employed after release and their family members are more likely to pursue higher education.
  • Colleges participating in SCP are offering a combined 82 certificates, 68 AA/AS/AAS degrees, and 21 BA/BS degrees.

Key Facts

Incarcerated people who participate in prison education programs are 43% less likely to recidivate than those who do not.

SCP sites taught more than 4,900 students in fall 2017, a 231% increase from fall 2016.


Vera Institute of Justice

  This research project was supported by ECMC Foundation.

  Download Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative Update >

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