Council: Give Pell grants to inmates


The City Council Committee on Higher Education voted Monday in favor of a measure to support President Barack Obama’s Second Chance Pell Pilot Program to help prison inmates pursue higher education.

Obama announced the federal grant program last year with the hope that prisoners would be better able to rejoin society if they are employable. It aims to reduce recidivism, the relapse into criminal behavior.

“A major obstacle is a lack of education and training necessary for former prisoners to receive meaningful sustained work experience in the outside world,” said Council member Inez Barron, D-Brooklyn, the committee’s chairwoman. “Increasingly, we live in a world where jobs demand some form of higher education.”

City Council leaders are aiming to reduce the number of detainees held in the city jail system as part of the growing effort to combat high incarceration rates.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito urged in her State of the City address that the Rikers Island jail population be reduced to the point that the facility could be shut.

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