LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - News of a Pell Grant specifically for inmates, brought US Secretary of Education, John King and Governor Robert Bentley to Limestone Correctional Facility on Wednesday. Three educational institutions have been awarded the Second Chance Pell Grant to help student inmates receive certification and associate degrees with incarcerated.
"I want everyone who's incarcerated to know that they're people," said Governor Bentley. "That they're persons and we care about persons."
The announcement brought US Secretary of Education, John King, to North Alabama.
"The Second Chance Pell Program will allow students at 69 universities and colleges around the country who are incarcerated to pursue their higher education," said King.
In our state, Calhoun Community College, JF Ingram State Technical College and Auburn University have been selected to participate in the grant program.
As a part of the program, student inmates will be able to earn a certification or associate degree while incarcerated - something Secretary King says is put in place as an effort to break the cycle.
"A study done on prison education programs, demonstrated that folks that have access to any educational programs in prison are forty-three percent less likely to return to prison," said King.
One of those is Roger Doege, who says after a round table discussion with Governor Bentley and Secretary King, he looks forward to the possibility of earning educational credit in the future.
"It's exciting, it's very exciting," said Doege. "I'm glad that somebody is seeing that education really does help. If you give people more chances, they're less likely to repeat what they did to get in here."
Secretary King's visit to Limestone county is part of a bus tour announcing the Pell Grant program.
We asked King how Alabama has measured up among the rest of the country, and he says he's impressed with how education and criminal justice reform are bipartisan issues in our state.
Currently at the Limestone Correctional Facility, it provides student inmates access to 11 training programs ranging from carpentry and welding to horticulture and mechanical design.