Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Education announced that 67 colleges and universities in 27 states — including the University of Maine at Augusta — had been selected to take part in the Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative. The goal of the pilot program was to test whether a greater number of people in prison would participate in high-quality education programs if they had greater access to financial aid to pay for such programs.
Initial results suggest the pilot is working. Since Second Chance Pell launched, 954 credentials, including certificates, associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees, have been awarded to students in prison thanks to expanded access to postsecondary education financial assistance. Here in Maine, we have awarded 72 degrees to date: 67 to incarcerated individuals at the Maine State Prison, four at the Women’s Reentry Center and one so far at the Maine Correctional Center.