WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (PA-04) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) reintroduced the Promoting Reentry through Education in Prisons (PREP) Act. Congressman Mondaire Jones and Congressman Kweisi Mfume are co-leading the bill. Congresswoman Dean previously introduced the bill with the late Congressman Elijah Cummings (MD-07) in 2019 while Senator Schatz introduced companion legislation in the Senate. The legislation would ensure that incarcerated individuals receive the educational opportunities they need to successfully reenter their communities after completing their sentences.
Providing incarcerated individuals with the resources to effectively reintegrate into society upon release can dramatically reduce recidivism. Two-thirds of formerly-incarcerated individuals are rearrested within three years; however, incarcerated people who participated in educational programs had 43 percent lower odds of reentering prison than those who did not.
“It’s in everyone’s interest that when people re-enter society, they do so with the skills they need to build decent futures for themselves and their families,” Congresswoman Dean said. “Educational opportunities make all the difference in helping to break the cycle of recidivism and reincarceration – and create more positive outcomes for all.”
“Research shows that one of the best ways to break the cycle of recidivism is through education,” Senator Schatz said. “This bill would make it easier for people in the federal prison system to pursue a better life through learning, in turn improving our public safety and saving taxpayers’ money.”
“It’s critical we give incarcerated individuals all of the tools they need to succeed after incarceration, and that starts with quality education and job training in incarcerated settings,” Congressman Mondaire Jones said. “I’m proud to introduce the Promoting Reentry Through Education in Prisons (PREP) Act alongside Rep. Dean to establish an Office of Prison Education within the Bureau of Prisons and ensure educational programming is available to all individuals in federal prisons. By investing in education in our prisons, we’ll reduce recidivism while investing in our economy and people’s futures.”
“Returning citizens deserve to re-enter society prepared to contribute in meaningful ways. Having the education and training to work with others upon release not only makes sense for formerly incarcerated individuals but also for the workforce development of our economy,” Congressman Mfume said. “Recidivism rates are reduced with educational programs for inmates, ultimately lowering prison expenses. Let’s work to invest in human capital which in turn will increase monetary capital for businesses, small and big alike,” he added.
The PREP Act takes several important steps:
- Establishes an Office of Correctional Education within the Bureau of Prisons. The Office would standardize educational programs across all federal prisons, ensuring that BOP provides educational services for adult literacy, GED, postsecondary, workforce readiness, apprenticeships, career and technical education, and expanded opportunities for individual with learning disabilities.
- Establishes the Federal Correctional Education Program. The program would create partnerships between federal correctional facilities and education providers to create quality programs.
- Trains and assists state and local correctional institutions. The legislation would provide for training and technical assistance to state and local correctional institutions that implement similar education programs.
- Notifies veterans of their eligibility. The bill would ensure that eligible veterans are notified of their ability to access education benefits and are connected with available programs in their federal or state correctional facility.
The PREP Act is supported by the Correctional Leaders Association, Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), Dream Corps JUSTICE, FAMM, NAACP, The Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), National CURE, College and Community Fellowship, Center for Disability Rights, Operation Restoration, Second Chance Education Alliance Inc., Prison Scholar Fund, and Record Clearance Project of SJSU.
Rep. Madeleine Dean is a mother, grandmother, attorney, professor, former four-term member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and U.S. Representative for the Fourth District of Pennsylvania.