The federal government will soon dramatically increase the number of free college educations that will be given to incarcerated prisoners around the country, funded by the American taxpayer.
As ABC News reports, many federal inmates can participate in academics and achieve their diplomas like regular students, even from behind bars. The program is funded by the federal Pell Grant, allowing them to get an education without having to pay.
Due to newly-enacted rules by the Biden Administration, a 1994 ban on Pell Grants for prisoners will be overturned. This will lead to a massive increase in the number of prisoners who can apply for such an education, and is projected to spend at least $130 million on 30,000 prisoners, starting next month.
In California, it costs at least $20,000 to put a prisoner through a bachelor’s program through the state’s Transforming Outcomes Project at Sacramento State (TOPSS).
Congress voted to end the Pell Grant ban for prisoners in 2020. Since that vote, at least 200 programs across 48 states that are eligible for Pell Grants have applied. As a result of the new regulations, any college can apply for such grants for prisoners.
Advocates for the plan have claimed that such a program will work towards further rehabilitating prisoners and turning them away from lives of crime. However, there has also been strong backlash from those who condemn the idea of giving free, taxpayer-funded benefits to criminals, especially when regular, law-abiding American students are already struggling to pay for their education.