Cuomo’s inmate education plan met with skepticism

NORWICH – On Sunday, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the initiation of a statewide incentive that if enacted would offer college degrees to inmates remanded within the New York State prison system.

In a statement released from the governors office, Cuomo maintains that bringing higher education to state prison inmates is directly attributable to decreased recidivism – or, re-incarceration – rates among those currently housed in one of more than 50 New York State prisons.

According to the release, the initiative will provide college level education at 10 New York State prisons, one in each region of the state. The program would offer both associates and bachelor’s degrees. Degrees would take generally 2.5 to 3 years.

Cuomo's staff will begin issuing Requests for Proposal (RFP) starting March 3, 2014 that will solicit responses from educational associations that provide college professors and classes in an accredited program in order for inmates to earn their degrees.

According to Cuomo, New York currently spends $60,000 per year to incarcerate one person and approximately $3.6 billion in total costs for prisons.

In contrast, it costs approximately $5,000 per year to provide one year of college education for one inmate. Cuomo's current studies have shown that by earning college degrees, inmates are far less likely to return to prison. New York’s current recidivism rate is 40 percent.

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