What is the PREP Act?

What is the PREP Act?

Two U.S. lawmakers have reintroduced the Promoting Reentry through Education in Prisons (PREP) Act in Congress. This proposed law, which was previously introduced in 2019, focuses on education in prison. Specifically, the PREP Act makes sure that incarcerated people get educational opportunities to help them successfully reenter their communities after completing their sentences.

What does the PREP Act do?

The PREP Act has several parts. Primarily, it establishes an “Office of Correctional Education” in the BOP. This office would make sure that the same educational programs exist in all federal prisons. As a result, services for literacy, workforce readiness and career and technical training would exist at all facilities. So would opportunities for a GED, college courses and education programs for people with learning disabilities.

The PREP Act also creates a “Federal Correctional Education Program.” This program creates partnerships between federal prisons and education providers to create the programs listed above. Additionally, the Act comes with training and assistance for education programs for state and local facilities. Finally, the proposed law makes sure that veterans who are eligible for these education programs are made aware of them.

Who does the PREP Act help?

The PREP Act helps everyone involved in the criminal justice system. It helps incarcerated people and their loved ones. It helps communities and public safety. And it also helps keep federal, state and local facilities safe. This is precisely what the lawmakers supporting the bill emphasized in their public comments.

“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,” U.S. Representative Madeleine Dean (D-PA) said in a press release. “Educational opportunities make all the difference in helping to break the cycle of recidivism and reincarceration – and create more positive outcomes for all.”

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That’s what U.S. Representative Mondaire Jones (D-NY) emphasized, too. “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,” he 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.”

How can the PREP Act help?

The PREP Act helps because it has the potential to keep people out of prison. “Research shows that one of the best ways to break the cycle of recidivism is through education,” U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) 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.”

The Takeaway:

The PREP Act focuses on education in prison. It aims to give every prisoner education opportunities no matter what facility they’re in. And, as a result, the Act aims to better prepare incarcerated people for release, make communities and the public as a whole safer and save taxpayer money.

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