Online education

Oregon Senate Approves Increased Access to Colleges for Prisoners

The state senate has passed legislation aimed at making higher education classes and programs more accessible to inmates. This is a move aimed at increasing his chances of success after his release.

Senate Bill 270It passed by a bipartisan vote of 23 to 5 late Monday. The bill, now sent to the House of Representatives, would allow the Oregon Department of Corrections to enter into agreements with community colleges to offer academic programs.

Departments can enter into agreements with colleges and universities statewide. This means that community colleges with robust programs can serve a wide range of prisons.

However, the bill does not allocate funds for the program, and agency officials told lawmakers that institutions would need more resources for prisons to offer higher education programs.

Other laws deal with higher education programs in prisons.Last week the Senate passed unanimouslySenate Bill 269This requires the Oregon Department of Corrections and the Higher Education Coordinating Board to work more closely on policies and strategies for educating adults in custody. Both bills face a vote in the House of Representatives.

“These bills represent an incredible opportunity for Oregon,” he said. The bill will make our communities safer, strengthen our workforce, and free millions of dollars of taxpayers to build a brighter future for our state.”

The move comes in a nationwide move to give inmates more opportunities for higher education. The federal government has expanded the Pell grant program, which provides financial aid to universities, to cover inmates starting in July.

According to testimony filed by the Oregon Department of Corrections, the Oregon Department of Corrections is currently running two pilot programs to offer online educational programs beginning in September at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility and Snake River Correctional Facility.

But officials lack the staff, equipment and technology needed to enroll students in the state’s other 10 prisons, Larry Bennett, assistant director of correctional services, said in testimony provided. Stated.

In a statement to the Capital Chronicle, department spokeswoman Jennifer Black said the pilot would eventually expand to ensure that adults in care at all institutions across the state have access to educational opportunities. I hope to become

At the same time, federal Pell subsidy regulations for prison education programs are burdensome. As a result, some colleges aren’t ready to offer classes this fall, and others have decided not to offer education in prison through the Pell Grant Program, Black said.

According to agency data, more than 9,600 adults in detention are eligible for a college education, have completed high school, or have a GED. This equates to nearly four of her five in Oregon’s prison population. About 2,600 people in prison do not have a high school diploma.

Ben Botkin Oregon Capital Chronicle

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