A federal program launched in 2015 by the U.S. Department of Education facilitated 25 inmates and parolees in Arkansas to receive their associate degrees last month. A graduation ceremony was held at the Arkansas Department of Correction unit in Wrightsville.
The Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative was implemented to reduce recidivism rates nationally. The program provides faculty and textbooks. Class is typically held at a correctional facility at night.
Shorter College and Arkansas State University-Newport both participate in the program. Pell Grants are granted to state and federal prisoners through the colleges. The federal Pell Grant has historically been reserved for students from low-income families.