Cuomo announces plan to help inmates earn college degrees

andrew cuomo minimum wage
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hoping the program will reduce recidivism rates. Credit: Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced a new initiative to bring college classes to prisons and help reduce the chances of inmates ending up behind bars in the future.

The program would provide college level education in 10 prisons across the state and give inmates the chance to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

“Giving men and women in prison the opportunity to earn a college degree costs our state less and benefits our society more,” Cuomo said. “Someone who leaves prison with a college degree has a real shot at a second lease on life because their education gives them the opportunity to get a job and avoid falling back into a cycle of crime.”

The governor’s office estimates that the program will cost $5,000 per inmate, per year.

New York currently spends $60,000 per year to incarcerate one inmate, and those who leave prison have a 40 percent chance of coming back, according to a news release.

The state plans to issue a Request for Proposals next month to educational associations that provide college professors and classes.

“A college education can open a variety of new paths and opportunities for incarcerated individuals that empower them to be upstanding citizens, rather than fall into a recurring cycle of criminal activity,” said Queens Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubrey.

“This would not only save taxpayer dollars by reducing the size of our prison population, it would also help to address the disproportionate representation of minorities in prison,” he said.

New York’s inmate population is 49.2 percent African American, 24 percent Hispanic, 24.1 percent white and 2.7 percent identify as other, according to the governor’s office.

Under the program, inmates would earn their degrees in two-and-a-half to three years.



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