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Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A.
“Out of the Box” Defense Strategy
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New federal program could provide inmates with a brighter future

Every year more than eight million college students across the U.S. receive much-needed assistance from the federal government in the form of Pell grants. For those unfamiliar with this financial aid, it is essentially an educational gift, not a loan, awarded to deserving students based on factors such as cost of tuition and need.

Interestingly enough, inmates in both state and federal penitentiaries have been prohibited from securing Pell grants since 1994 thanks to a Congressional ban. However, this past summer, the Obama Administration announced that it would be exercising its authority to undertake limited experiments related to federal student aid and offering a small pool of prison inmates access to Pell grants.

This limited experiment, named the Second Chance Pilot Program, is designed to provide inmates who are eligible for release within five years, and who have not been convicted of a sex crime with the opportunity to work toward a bachelor's degree or associate's degree while behind bars.  

The justification for the program, say administration officials, is that research has consistently shown that inmates who leave prison with an education are much less likely to re-offend, something that saves taxpayers considerable money over the long run.

The White House has also indicated that the pilot program, which is scheduled to start in the fall of 2016, has yet to name any participating colleges and will not result in any grant money being taken away from students.

It's highly encouraging to see federal dollars being directed to such a worthy cause as rehabilitation. Here's hoping the Second Chance Pilot Program produces real results.

If you or a loved one have been charged with any sort of felony or misdemeanor, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about your options.

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