Cunningham, Ruiz Bill to Expand Grant, Scholarship Access to Incarcerated Becomes Law
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Higher Education Chair Senator Sandra B. Cunningham and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, which will allow incarcerated individuals to receive state grants and scholarships, was signed into law today.
“Higher education is a powerful tool to reduce recidivism, and improve outcomes for those reentering society,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “The signing of this legislation is a meaningful step as we work to shift our criminal justice system from one based on punishment towards one truly based on rehabilitation. Today we sent a powerful message to incarcerated individuals around the state that we value their growth and are willing to invest in their futures.”
Under the law, incarcerated individuals would be eligible so long as they had been a resident of the state for at least 12 months prior to incarceration, are a state-sentenced inmate and receive approval from the Department of Corrections to enroll in an eligible institution.
“Offering inmates the opportunity and the means to pursue higher education while in prison can be life changing,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Creating this avenue for educational growth will improve an inmate’s quality of life while in prison and help them find jobs and return to normalcy upon their release.”
Institutions of higher education that currently partner with the Department of Corrections and State Parole Board to offer courses to inmates includes Princeton University, Rutgers University, TCNJ and several community colleges.
The law will take effect immediately.