Marshall, Texas — Wiley College President Dr. Haywood L. Strickland and key staff members are in Washington, D.C. today attending the inaugural convening of the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, which allows incarcerated students to receive federal Pell Grant funding for postsecondary education. Last month, the U.S. Department of Education announced. Wiley College as one of 69 selected colleges and universities that will provide postsecondary education to nearly 12,000 students in more than 100 state and federal prisons nationwide. Wiley was selected to participate in the program out of more than 200 applicants in 48 states.
“Wiley College is committed to the principle of educational access, and on our campus, we believe in second chances when people are equipped with the tools to succeed,” said Dr. Strickland. “Education is a powerful tool. It can alter the course of a life from one filled with negativity, crime, and repeated mistakes to one filled with hope and fulfilled promises of positive change.”
In 1994, Pell Grant eligibility for students in state and federal prisons was eliminated as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education announced the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program to restore educational access for some of those individuals, improving their chances of successful and productive reentry after they are released.
The convening, which is hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera), features keynote presentations by Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates and U.S. Department of Education Secretary John B. King, who will also moderate a panel of students describing their college experiences in prison.
During the day-long conference, postsecondary and correctional leaders from the selected pilot programs will have the opportunity to share ideas and hear from leaders in the field of correctional education in preparation for developing and implementing new programs or expanding existing ones.
“Expanding educational opportunity for people who are incarcerated not only improves their lives, but strengthens our communities by preparing them to contribute to society rather than return to prison,” said Fred Patrick, director of Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections. “We are thrilled that Wiley College is a partner in this important initiative to restore and expand access to college in prison.”
Working with three facilities in Louisiana-St. Gabriel Department of Corrections, Winnfield Correctional Center, and Madison Parish Detention Center- Wiley College will offer the Associate of Arts Degree, the Bachelor of Arts Degree, and the Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in disciplines such as Criminal Justice, Business Administration, Hospitality and Tourism, Interdisciplinary Studies (various concentrations), and Sociology that are designed to be completed in two to four years, respectively. Courses will be offered online via a portal and Wiley faculty and advisors will make periodic visits to the correctional facilities.
As a part of the re-entry plan for graduates, Wiley College will track job placement outcomes of all Second Chance Program graduates every six months for five years.
With support from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Vera is providing technical assistance to the selected Second Chance Pell sites as part of the Expanding Access to Postsecondary Education Project. The project aims to facilitate the implementation and scaling up of quality higher education programs in prisons and those that work with students after they return home, and to assist with the development of policies, procedures, and practices to increase the participation of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals in these programs.