While families are having difficulties finding ways to send their child to college, Barack Obama has signed an executive order to give prison inmates access to thousands of dollars each for higher education.
The order upends a 22-year-old law passed by Congress that banned prisoners from receiving Pell Grants – which is free money that can be used to pay for college expenses.
Reforming the Justice system has been a goal for both parties in Washington. Everything from reducing drug sentences to providing access to education while in prison are on the table, but this bill sends taxpayer dollars from middle-class families that may not qualify for any other financial aid to convicted felons.
When the Obama administration announced the plan in 2015, Republicans in Congress pushed back against it.
“At the time, Republican Rep. Chris Collins, filed his own bill, the “Kids Before Cons Act,” which would study whether students enrolled at charter or private schools under a voucher program are less likely to end up in prison than children in traditional public schools. The idea behind the Collins bill: Reduce imprisonment on the front end, rather than spending money on the back end.
“The Obama administration’s plan to put the cost of a free college education for criminals on the backs of the taxpayers is consistent with their policy of rewarding lawbreakers while penalizing hardworking Americans,” Collins (R) of New York said, The Christian Science Monitor is reporting.”
Congress stopped funding of Pell Grants for prison inmates back in 1994. At the time, there were 25, 168 inmates using the funding for college – about 1 percent of all grantees. But that amounted to $34.6 million that could go to students who are struggling who weren’t in prison.
If you are wondering how Obama sidestepped Congress once again, it was with another executive order; this time it’s considered a “pilot program,” so it doesn’t Congressional approval.
Letting prisoners go to college while they serve their time might be a good idea – even a noble one – but does anyone think that there aren’t students n this country that deserve help paying for college than prison inmates.