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February 16, 2014

New York Gov makes serious push for serious educational programming behind bars

This new AP article, headlined "Gov. Cuomo wants state to fund college classes for NY prisoners," reports on a notable new prison proposal coming from a notable elected official. Here are the basics:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing to fund college classes in New York prisons, saying a college degree will reduce the likelihood an inmate will return to crime when released. The program will offer associate and bachelor's degree education at 10 prisons, one in each region of the state.

According to Cuomo's office, New York currently spends $60,000 per year on each prisoner, and it will cost approximately $5,000 per year to educate an inmate. Cuomo didn't specify the cost of the overall program. The state will issue a Request for Proposal from qualified educational associations in March.

Since 2007, the state Department of Corrections has partnered with colleges, including Cornell University and Bard College, to offer privately funded degree programs at 22 prisons. The new program will expand on that.

February 16, 2014 at 11:58 PM | Permalink

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Schooling only works IF there are employment opportunities within the framework of the schooling itself. Most felons are not allowed to work in many professional industries, including any industry that requires a professional license. In addition, many felons will not be able to do residential work, retail work, or other work that entails public contact if they are on probation, or if they will be required to register as a sex offender.

This is more of an indictment on society more than lack of education opportunities behind bars, but what happens when someone is educated behind bars, expects to get a job in that industry, and finds out he's barred from it because of his conviction? This breeds contempt, and increases recidivism tendencies.

So is this primarily feel-good legislation, or is it actual recidivism-prevention measures? Without the employment component following release from prison, the education system is for naught. Better to concentrate resources on post-incarceration employment opportunities than to provide college for incarcerated inmates.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Feb 17, 2014 1:01:46 PM

How about reducing the sentencing for non-violent crimes, its not completely off the mark, upstate prisons have been a political issue of funding because oftentimes its a major source of employment and income, it took a while for new york to reform its rockefeller drug laws.

Posted by: Kris | Feb 18, 2014 5:04:14 AM

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