In Obama’s new America, illegal immigrants come before good old American citizens. On top of that, Obama wants prisoners to get favorable treatment.
Starting next month, thousands of US prison inmates will be able to access federal financial aid to continue their higher education studies.
These new students, which could number up to 12,000, will remain in their prison facilities learning through online classes, classroom-based instruction, or a combination of the two, reports the Washington Post. But the Obama administration hopes that the pilot financial aid program will open doors for the inmates when they leave the system.
“We all agree that crime must have consequences, but the men and women who have done their time and paid their debt deserve the opportunity to break with the past and forge new lives in their homes, workplaces and communities,” Education Secretary John B. King Jr. said on a call with reporters Thursday. “This belief in second chances is fundamental to who we are as Americans.”
The pilot program is part of a larger, bipartisan effort to reform the US justice system. It includes measures ranging from “ban the box” so felons don’t have to report criminal history on job applications to rolling back lifetime sentences on drug-related crimes and commuting the sentences of low-level and nonviolent drug dealers.
The Second Chance Pell Pilot Program will enable inmates to access Pell grants, which are federal education scholarships of $5,815 or less per year. By slating this as a trial, the US Education Department can circumvent a 1994 Congressional ban on awarding Pell money to inmates. The trial has been over a year in the making: last summer the Obama administration publicly announced the executive action to launch the program in 2016.
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 told Politico.
The Obama initiative brings together more than 100 federal and state adult penitentiaries and 67 colleges and universities, the majority of which have offered some version of prison-based education in the past, according to the Washington Post. Inmates must be within 5 years of leaving prison in order to access the funding.
Prison is meant to rehabilitate folks so when they get out of prison they are able to function and contribute in society. Supporting them financially is an entirely different subject. Is it fair that people who break the laws have it easier than law abiding citizens?