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Remarks of Amy L. Solomon, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs, as Prepared for Delivery at the Second Chance Pell Roll-Out

As Prepared for Delivery at the Second Chance Pell Roll-Out in Washington, DC

      I am so pleased to join Secretary Cardona and everyone here today, and I am incredibly excited to be part of today’s roll-out.  This announcement is the culmination of years of dedication and hard work, by my colleagues at the Departments of Education and Justice as well as by champions from around the country, including many with lived experience and extraordinary stories of perseverance and success.

      I had the privilege to serve as executive director of President Obama’s Federal Interagency Reentry Council and worked closely with my colleagues at the Department of Education to launch the Second Chance Pell initiative.  And so it is a special privilege to participate today as the effort expands to new sites – and in preparation for broad scale implementation in 2023.  It is remarkable and so very encouraging that we have made such progress on this front.

      As everyone in this room knows, a quality education is an opportunity that has been too often foreclosed to individuals returning from jails and prisons.  Yet it is one of the very keys to reentry success.  A meta-analysis from the RAND Corporation found that the odds of committing a new crime are 48 percent lower for people who receive an education while incarcerated.  And when incarcerated students receive a post-secondary education, it pays for itself four times over.

      But the benefits of education in prison extend even beyond cost savings and reductions in recidivism.  Conferring the benefits of higher education unlocks human potential.  It provides opportunities for internal growth and development.  And it benefits families by opening doors and by building a legacy of academic participation and technical skill.  After all, kids are more likely to go to college or trade school if their parents do.

      We are doing our part at the Department of Justice to widen access to education and the workforce.  Our partners at the Vera Institute of Justice are providing critical technical assistance to colleges and corrections departments in the Second Chance Pell program, helping ready the field for full-scale Pell implementation.  And our Bureau of Justice Assistance recently welcomed two Second Chance Fellows – two talented professionals, John Bae and Angel Sanchez, who have expertise in the reentry field and their own personal experience with the criminal justice system.  We are so pleased that John and Angel will advise our Second Chance program and policy work to catalyze even deeper, more systemic changes across the country.

It is an exciting moment, and I look forward to what’s ahead.  Thank you.


Date Published: April 26, 2022