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Sen. O'Brien says he opposes Cuomo's plan to provide college classes to inmates


State Senator Ted O'Brien, a Democrat, has come out against a proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo to give state prison inmates access to college degree programs. 
Ted O'Brien. - FILE PHOTO
  • Ted O'Brien.

"We should not spend taxpayer money on funding college classes for inmates when rising tuition rates are preventing so many hardworking young people who have done nothing wrong from going to college," says O'Brien in a press release. "However well-intentioned, I cannot support a policy that would divert resources away from helping students in good standing and their families afford a quality education." 

Many people in the state's jails and prisons will someday be released back into the community, but statistics show that 40 percent will end up back in jail or prison.

Those odds drop, Cuomo says, if former inmates have a college degree. It costs the state $60,000 a year to house an inmate, he says, but only $5,000 a year to provide an inmate with college instruction. Under Cuomo's proposal, inmates would be able to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in two-and-a-half or three years. Those degrees are about the minimum required to get a decent job nowadays.

"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," Cuomo says.