A Memphis lawmaker wants to expand the benefits of the Tennessee Reconnect grant to people in prison.
Democrat Barbara Cooper said incarcerated people who are able to go to community college could help fill job openings after they’re released.
But, she said, they need the state to pitch in. Currently, the federal government puts limitations on who is considered eligible for financial aid, which is a key component of Tennessee Promise. That often includes prisoners.
The bill introduced by Cooper in the state House of Representatives would allow incarcerated people to be eligible for Tennessee Reconnect, the free-college program for adults who haven’t earned a degree.
“I know we are greater and smarter than just, all we can do if somebody breaks the law is to put them in jail and throw the key away,” Cooper told WPLN on Tuesday.
Cooper said access to education is key in the rehabilitation process. And she said the state could benefit, by giving students formal training for on-demand careers.