What it Costs When We Don't Educate Inmates for Life After Prison

Prisoners also used to be eligible for Pell Grants, which helped them pay for courses, but that option was eliminated in the mid-1990s and many universities that offered courses to prisoners withdrew their programs. That means that without funding, most cases prisoners must actually pay to get their education.

Boston University continues to offer inmates who successfully complete its prison education program a chance to earn a bachelor of liberal interdisciplinary studies. And those who complete it say it has made a real difference in their lives. Besides the economic benefits of a college degree, the program is a chance for prisoners to prove they can accomplish something.

"Like most migrants who come to this country in search of the American Dream," Boston University Prison Education Valedictorian Ezekial I. said in his 2011 commencement speech. "So when I got to MCI Norfolk, I knew that I would at least get a chance to restore that dream. Today, I am proud to say that that dream of theirs is no longer deferred."

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