|VERA Institute of Justice|
We have some big news.
On Monday night, Congress voted to lift the 26 year-old ban on Pell Grants for people in prison. This means that incarcerated people will once again be able to access federal Pell Grants to pay for college courses.
This is a historic victory — for incarcerated students and the families, advocates, and organizations who have been working tirelessly to reach this day.
Restoring Pell Grants for people in prison means creating enormous new opportunities for tens of thousands of justice-impacted people, opening doors to life-changing education and employment and strengthening families. It’s an important step forward in transforming our crisis-ridden criminal legal system, which disproportionately harms Black and brown communities.
This is a victory for us at Vera. But it is not ours alone. We’ve worked directly with incarcerated people, formerly incarcerated people, colleges, prisons, and partner organizations including College and Community Fellowship, Drug Policy Alliance, Prison Fellowship, the Unlock Higher Ed coalition, and many others to expand access to quality postsecondary education in prison — providing assistance to college-in-prison programs, joining formerly incarcerated students in meetings with policymakers, and helping to build this movement.
Eight years ago, Fred Patrick joined us at Vera because he believed in the transformative power of college for all students, and he believed we could eventually undo the damage done by the 1994 ban. Fred died eighteen months ago, but he has stayed with us every step of the way, and it is with profound joy and sadness that we celebrate this victory with him, for him.
President and Director
Vera Institute of Justice