Racial Equality

H.R.799 – Shift Back to Society Act of 2017

Short Titles as Introduced:

Shift Back to Society Act of 2017

Official Title as Introduced:

To authorize the Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to establish a pilot program to make grants to historically Black colleges and universities to provide educational programs to offenders who have recently been, or will soon be, released from incarceration, and for other purposes.

Summary:

Introduced in House (02/01/2017)

Shift Back to Society Act of 2017

This bill directs the Department of Justice to establish a pilot program that awards matching grants to historically black colleges and universities to provide educational programs for eligible offenders to facilitate re-entry into the community.

An eligible offender is a convicted criminal offender who has been released from incarceration for less than one year or who is scheduled to be released from incarceration within one year.

The Government Accountability Office must report to Congress on the results of the pilot program.

Question:

“This bill directs the Department of Justice to establish a pilot program that awards matching grants to historically black colleges and universities to provide educational programs for eligible offenders to facilitate re-entry into the community.”

Why only direct ‘convicted criminal offender[s]’ to ‘historically black colleges and universities*’ rather than provide the grant to any university who is willing to offer such a program? Is it not a racist stereotype that most ‘criminal offenders’ are African American? Is this bill simply trying to implement a form of segregation through education as well as to possibly place a heavier burden, both financially as well as potentially skewing performance statistics for their students, on ‘historically black colleges and universities’ rather than on other non-historically black colleges and universities? Could it not also potentially stigmatize any ‘historically black colleges and universities’ that opt to participate, as it would signal, both to their other students as well as the community at large, that they agree with the stereotype that most ‘criminal offenders’ are African American?

The general idea seems relevant, however the planned implementation seems suspect.

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*According to the text of the bill, “The term “historically Black college or university” has the meaning given the term “part B institution” under section 322(2) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1061(2)

20 U.S.C. 1061(2) States that:

“(2) The term “part B institution” means any historically Black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of Black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation,,1 except that any branch campus of a southern institution of higher education that prior to September 30, 1986, received a grant as an institution with special needs under section 1060 of this title and was formally recognized by the National Center for Education Statistics as a Historically Black College or University but was determined not to be a part B institution on or after October 17, 1986, shall, from July 18, 1988, be considered a part B institution.”

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