College behind bars: An old idea with some new energy

College education in American prisons is starting to grow again, more than two decades since federal government dollars were prohibited from being used for such programs behind bars.

The shift comes as everyone from President Barack Obama to state policymakers are looking for ways to get better results from the $80 billion the U.S. spends annually on incarceration.

Several recent studies have shown those projects cut crime and prison costs by helping inmates go home and stay there instead of returning.

Now more dollars are starting to follow those results, led by a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Education to experiment again with federal Pell Grants for inmate students.

States such as Washington, New York and California also are looking into spending more state dollars.