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Congressman Elijah E. Cummings Introduce the Promoting Re-entry through Education in Prisons Act
By Sentinel News Wire
Published May 15, 2019

Congressman Elijah E. Cummings

Washington, D.C. –  Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07) and Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (PA-04) introduced the Promoting Reentry through Education in Prisons (PREP) Act.  The legislation would ease the barriers to reentry by ensuring incarcerated individuals receive the educational opportunities they need to successfully reenter their communities upon release from federal prison.  Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Providing incarcerated individuals with the resources needed to effectively reintegrate into society upon their release is essential in preventing recidivism.  One in three American adults currently has a criminal record.  Unfortunately, over two-thirds of formerly-incarcerated people are rearrested within three years; however, incarcerated individuals who participated in educational programs had 43 percent lower odds of reentering the prison system than those who did not.

“Education gives us direction and often provides people with the tools they need to leave the path that originally led them to incarceration.  Educational programs are proven to reduce recidivism, and it is imperative that every incarcerated individual is provided with the opportunity to better themselves and leave prison ready to fully contribute to their communities,” said Congressman Cummings.  “The bill we introduced today will provide the BOP with the tools and guidance they need to provide incarcerated individuals the educational opportunities to change their lives for the better.”

“It’s in everyone’s interest that when prisoners re-enter society, they do so with the skills they need to build decent futures for themselves and their families,” said Congresswoman Dean.  “Education opportunities can make all the difference.”

Specifically, the PREP Act:

  • Establishes an Office of Correctional Education within the BOP.  The Office of Correctional Education would standardize educational programs across all federal prisons.  The Office would be required to ensure that BOP provides educational services across the spectrum—adult literacy, GED, postsecondary, workforce readiness, apprenticeships, career and technical education, and expanded opportunities for individual with learning disabilities.  The Office would also be required to coordinate with other relevant federal agencies, provide technical assistance and training to state departments of corrections, and issue reports.
  • Establishes the Federal Correctional Education Program.  The program would create partnerships between federal correctional facilities and education providers to create quality programs within federal prisons.
  • Trains and assists state and local correctional institutions.  The bill would provide training and technical assistance to state and local correctional institutions that implement similar correctional education programs.
  • Notifies veterans of their eligibility.  The bill would ensure that eligible veterans are notified of their ability to access their education benefits and are connected with available education programs in their federal or state correctional facility.

The PREP Act has been endorsed by over 20 organizations, including the Association of State Correctional Administrators, NAACP, ACLU, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, #cut50, Campaign for Youth Justice, Drug Policy Alliance, The Sentencing Project, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP).  A full list of endorsing organizations can be found here.

Click here for the bill text.

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