What is the Prison Scholar Fund?

Having spent 16 years behind bars, Dirk Van Velzen is used to the word “no”; however, he may have heard that word more than the average prisoner. Van Velzen went to prison in 1999 on commercial burglary charges and got bored. According to his story on Prison Scholar Fund, “he quickly realized that the main

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FCI Petersburg's UNICOR Announces Scholarship Program

By Christopher Zoukis

For the past several years I have been seeking information on the UNICOR Scholarship Program offered at FCI Petersburg.  And for years I, and other UNICOR workers, have received a cold shoulder from FCI Petersburg UNICOR staff.  They have refused to provide information concerning how to apply for the scholarship program, what the program consists of, the requirements thereof, and where to find additional information concerning it.

Up until today, I’ve only been able to locate two sources of limited information concerning the program: 1) an inmate who is in the program, but was unwilling to supply myself with any sort of documentation concerning it and 2) referrals to it — and program directions — which can be located in Federal Bureau of Prisons’ national policy.  Essentially I, and the vast majority of other inmates at FCI Petersburg, have been stonewalled by UNICOR staff which resulted in the vast majority of UNICOR inmates not being able to apply for this scholarship program.  Today that changed.

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The Prison Scholar Fund

With a prison population of nearly 2.5 million inmates in the United States, the U.S. surpasses all other countries in the percentage of citizens that it imprisons. 

Federal funding for education while behind bars is denied to prisoners, giving little hope of rehabilitation for prisoners. This creates nonexistent opportunities for inmates to receive post-secondary education. 

Statistics show that inmates that receive education while incarcerated have greatly, reduced if nonexistent, recidivism rates. This means that providing prisoners with educational opportunities actually costs tax payers much less money than keeping them in prison. 

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