John Jay College Selected as Second Chance Pell Pilot Program Site for Incarcerated Students

John Jay College Selected as Second Chance Pell Pilot Program Site for Incarcerated Students

John Jay College Selected as Second Chance Pell Pilot Program Site for Incarcerated Students

New York, NY, June 28, 2016 – The Obama Administration has selected John Jay College of Criminal Justice as one of 67 colleges and universities that will expand education opportunities for incarcerated individuals as part of the Second Chance Pell pilot program. On June 24, the U.S. Department of Education announced the names of schools that will partner with state and federal correctional institutions to enroll 12,000 incarcerated students who will receive Federal Pell Grants, a first in over two decades, for educational and training programs.

As part of the groundbreaking Second Chance Pell pilot program, the John Jay Prison-to-College Pipeline (P2CP) program – administered by College’s Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) – will triple the number of students it currently serves. Launched in 2011, P2CP provides prisoners with access to public university-level education, mentorship, and community support to increase their chances of timely graduation and employment upon release. John Jay joins other New York higher education institutions selected for the Second Chance Pell pilot program such as Bard College, Marymount College and P2CP partner Hostos Community College.

“The Prisoner Reentry Institute is proud to have the support of CUNY Chancellor James Milliken and of President Jeremy Travis in all of our efforts to expand access to higher education to people who are incarcerated or who are in the community seeking to transform their lives through hard work and academic achievement,” said Ann Jacobs, Director of PRI. “We know from observation that this investment pays off in dramatic benefits, not just for the individual student but for his or her family and for our communities.”

"We could not be more proud to call the P2CP a Second Chance Pell grantee,” said Associate Professor Baz Dreisinger, Academic Director of the P2CP program. “It's a true investment in the pipeline model--and in making higher education the centerpiece of reentry. In five years of developing and nurturing this program, we have seen it transform lives. Now we can do so on a grand scale."

“We are in an extraordinary moment,” said Bianca van Heydoorn, Director of Educational Initiatives at the PRI. “People in prison are getting access to Pell grants for the first time in over 20 years. The expansion of higher education in prisons that is made possible by this initiative has the potential to shift us as a country away from mass incarceration and toward educational justice and successful reentry. We couldn’t be more proud to be involved in this historical initiative.”

According to the Department of Education, a 2013 study from the RAND Corporation found that incarcerated individuals who participated in correctional education were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years of their release than prisoners who did not participate in any correctional education programs. RAND also estimated that for every dollar invested in correctional education programs, four to five dollars are saved on three-year re-incarceration costs.

The Second Chance Pell pilot program is made possible because the Department of Education is authorized under Higher Education Act (HEA) to administer experiments to test the effectiveness of statutory and regulatory flexibility for participating postsecondary institutions in disbursing federal student aid. Existing financial aid rules that prohibit eligible students who are incarcerated from accessing Pell Grants will be waived for experimental sites.

"It's called a 'Second Chance' act but in many respects it's actually about first chances, as so many of the students we serve were not given access to strong educational opportunities in the first place,” Professor Dreisinger added. “The P2CP is about giving students just that: the chance to thrive in an educational context, and truly live up to their intellectual potentials."

Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice was founded in 2005 with the mission of the to spur innovation and improve practice in the field of reentry by advancing knowledge; translating research into effective policy and service delivery; and fostering effective partnerships between criminal justice and non-criminal justice disciplines.

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations.  In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit


Media Coverage

University Herald
June 26, 2016
Thousands Of New York-Area Inmates Will Be Given Federal Funds For College Behind Bars

The Wall Street Journal
June 24, 2016
Thousands of New York-Area Inmates to Get Federal Funds for College Education