by Guest Blogger, Rachel Milano
Education is a basic right for everyone and this includes inmates. Being behind bars does not mean you forfeit your right to a college education. Most states have eliminated their prison education programs when President Clinton banned the Pell Grant for inmates in 1994. Fortunately, there are college correspondence courses for inmates. College correspondence courses for inmates are distance-learning programs. The classes are done mostly through mail or by video instruction.
Recently though, most correspondence courses for inmates have shifted to online distance learning programs. There are a number of states that offer correspondence courses. Unfortunately, most of these college courses for inmates are not free and with the elimination of the Pell Grant, higher education for inmates has become much more challenging to obtain.
Most families have to shoulder the education of the inmate but there are some programs that do offer scholarship grants. The Ohio University College Program for the Incarcerated, for instance, offers scholarship grants to cover part of the expenses for their prison education program. Wesleyan University offers full scholarship for inmates. Each school or university has its own set of rules and regulations for scholarship applications, so you will have to know the basics before applying for any grant. The good thing is the fees for a correspondence course for inmates is not that expensive and are comparable to most community colleges. If one is not able to earn his degree before he is released, he may transfer his credits to any college outside.
Higher education is not impossible even behind bars. With correspondence courses for inmates, the opportunity is there to better one’s life and increase one’s chances of successful reentry. Studies have shown that the rate of recidivism is greatly reduced when one receives a college education while incarcerated. The average rate of recidivism stands at a staggering 66%. With a college degree, this drops significantly below 11%. College correspondence courses for inmates are definitely a way by which we can effectively reduce reoffending rates and give our prisoners a second chance at life.