John-Michael Cotignola-Pickens Archive

An education for all

Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, is quoted as saying, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.” Congress continues to discuss the possibility of passing the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act, which would provide access to Pell Grants for incarcerated students, as a part of the Higher Education Act. Education improves the lives of people who are incarcerated by reducing the recidivism rate among returning citizens, providing them with social capital and increasing employment opportunities when they return to their communities. Some lawmakers […]

Gun violence: Loving our neighbors so they may flourish

So far this year the House of Representatives has made various efforts and held numerous hearings to address the United States’ unique gun violence problem. The House Judiciary Committee recently advanced three gun violence prevention bills that would outlaw large capacity ammunition magazines, provide funding to states to enact Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) and bar individuals convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime from owning a weapon. These bills will now be voted on by the entire House of Representatives, which approved a bill in February that would expand background checks. Conversations in the Senate are ongoing. Often lost in […]

The power of an education

  In 1994, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, also known as the crime bill, in an attempt to be tough on crime. The bill included an amendment to ban Pell Grants for incarcerated students. As a result the number of education programs within prisons fell from over 350 in 1990 to only 12 in 2005 . The lack of educational opportunities within prisons adds to the obstacles for returning citizens as they are released, including difficulty in finding a job. This can feed into the cycle of poverty and homelessness and increases recidivism rates […]