FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 16th, 2015 CONTACT: Liz Holliday, EIO Communications Associate, 646-380-7783
Education from the Inside Out Coalition Praises President Clinton for Admitting Past Mistakes; Citing Importance of In-Prison Education
New York – Today, the Education from the Inside Out Coalition (EIO) applauds former president Bill Clinton for admitting his administration’s criminal justice policies were “wrong” and citing the need to reverse some of those policies – specifically around in-prison education. During a speech Wednesday, Clinton defended the intentions of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act by pointing to soaring crime rates, and a pressure to fix the problem. However he admitted the approach he chose was the wrong one, saying “I signed a bill that made the problem worse.” He said. “And I want to admit it.”
Clinton claimed the aftermath of the bill, one which he said was “impossible to veto,” included a ban on Pell grant eligibility to incarcerated individuals and devastated the 111 in-prison college programs that existed at the time, leaving only 12 nationwide by 2005. Clinton himself mentioned this in his speech noting what, in the intervening decades, countless studies have shown: that attaining a college degree while incarcerated leads to dramatic drops in recidivism. Clinton said “there is almost a zero recidivism rate for people who get college degrees while in prison,” and implored criminal justice reformers at the end of his speech to “start there.”
“While his crime bill may have had the intention of reducing crime, it simultaneously over-crowded our prisons while removing the opportunity to break the cycle of incarceration,” said EIO Co-Founder Vivian Nixon. “We know it takes courage to admit one’s past mistakes. We hope the former President continues to show courage on this issue and throws his support behind ongoing efforts to restore Pell access to incarcerated student.”
The former President’s statements come on the heels of the introduction of Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act in the House of Representatives, which would restore access to Pell for qualified incarcerated students.
“Education builds self-esteem and helps teach minds to engage in critical thinking, which has been proven to lower recidivism and help transform lives,” Nixon said. “We thank President Clinton for voicing his regrets and recognizing the power of education, and we urge Congress to fix what he himself called a ‘wrong’ approach.”
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About Education from the Inside Out Coalition:
The Education from the Inside Out Coalition is a national, nonpartisan collaborative of advocates from across the country working to remove barriers to higher education facing students while they are in prison and once they come home.