Prof. Cantora: 'Prison Education Makes a Difference' - for the Incarcerated, and Society, Too
December 23, 2020
Contact: Office of Government and Public Affairs
Writing in The Conversation, Prof. Andrea Cantora, director of The University of Baltimore's lauded Second Chance College Program, says that the just-announced restoration of federal student aid for incarcerated persons—such as those enrolled at UB through Second Chance—brings new emphasis to rehabilitation and education.
Congress banned federal student aid for people behind bars in 1994, Cantora writes, during a period of "tough on crime" measures.
"The number of people behind bars grew, but, without access to federal student aid, higher education programs in America's correctional facilities dwindled," she says.
But on Dec. 21, Congress ended the ban and restored the Pell grant to include those who are incarcerated.
"The decision comes after a long push for prison reforms that included calls for a greater emphasis on rehabilitation, reducing prison populations and making prison sentences less harsh," she writes.
As director of Second Chance, Prof. Cantora oversees the University's efforts to provide undergraduate education at Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI), a medium-security prison for men. Currently, some 40 students there are working toward a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services Administration degree, with an option to minor in entrepreneurship. The program also provides mentoring and tutoring opportunities for the JCI students.
"As the director of a prison college program at The University of Baltimore, I know firsthand that providing college for people in prison will make a positive difference in their lives. It will also improve public safety and save taxpayers money," Cantora writes.
Research indicates that not only does recidivism decline, but job prospects improve for those who are released. Even the children of the incarcerated increase their odds of success, she says, as they are more likely to attend college themselves.
Read Prof. Cantora's article in The Conversation.
Prof. Cantora discussed this topic on the Wednesday, Jan. 6 edition of Top of Mind on BYUradio on Sirius XM Channel 143. The edition is available here.