Pilot program for “rehabilitative justice”

For Immediate Release:  June 24, 2016

BLOOMSBURG — Bloomsburg University is one of 67 colleges and universities nationwide selected by the U.S. Department of Education to participate in a pilot program that will offer Pell grants to incarcerated students.

Second Chance Pell will enroll about 12,000 prisoners at 141 correctional institutions across the country. BU may enroll 30 Pell-eligible students during the 2016-17 academic year and will focus on the State Correctional Institution-Muncy and State Correctional Institution-Mahanoy.

Most participating prisoners are scheduled to be released within the next five years.

“This initiative has the potential to change the trajectory for the life of numerous inmates and their families and communities,” said Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel, who graduated from BU in 1998 and serves on its Council of Trustees.

James Brown, dean of BU’s College of Liberal Arts, said the program centers on “rehabilitative justice.”

“Many who are incarcerated want to prepare to work with troubled youths and adults upon their release,” he said. “Research shows education has a tremendous impact on preventing a relapse into criminal behavior.”

More than 200 colleges and universities expressed interest in the Second Chance Pell program. BU and three other Pennsylvania institutions — Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Lehigh Carbon Community College and Villanova University — were among those selected.

The federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income students to promote access to post-secondary education. Unlike a loan, a Pell grant does not require repayment. The Second Chance Pell program is estimated to comprise less than one tenth of 1 percent of total Pell spending.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 10,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.