From The Intercept:

Arthur Rizer, a former cop and federal prosecutor who now works for R Street, a center-right think tank, is a serious fan of the idea of bringing educational opportunities back into prisons. “It’s bat-shit crazy the way that we’ve handled this in the past,” he says. He notes that the vast majority of jobs require some postsecondary education, so providing that to inmates just makes sense — for individuals, businesses, and the community at large. “I call it trickle-down criminal justice.”

Ultimately, he says that data should be driving criminal justice reforms. “The takeaway for me is that this makes us safer. Period.”

There has been bipartisan support for legislation that would reinstate Pell Grant access. Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is chair of the chamber’s education and labor committee, has signaled a willingness to do so as part of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, while Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz has previously proposed a standalone bill — the Restoring Education and Learning Act of 2018 — to repeal the ban. “Most prisoners, sooner or later, are released from prison, and no one is helped when they do not have the skills to find a job,” Alexander told the New York Times last year. “Making Pell Grants available to them in the right circumstances is a good idea.”

Rizer says he is confident that there is an appetite in the White House for this reform too. Coming off passage of the First Step Act (despite the controversy surrounding it), he said he has heard from the White House that President Donald Trump sees criminal justice reform “as his legacy issue.” The iron “is really hot right now for these kinds of issues.”

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