NY to Spend $7.3M on College-in-Prison Program

NY to Spend $7.3M on College-in-Prison Program
Susan Dutca-Lovell

$7.3 million will be spent to create or expand free college education programs in New York prisons. Among the seven colleges who will offer the College-in-Prison Reentry Program at 17 state correctional facilities over the next five years is Cornell University.

New York Governor Cuomo's proposal for college-in-prison emerged in 2014, based on the statistics that reveal "lower recidivism rates among inmates who receive an education." This was met with great backlash from individuals who "questioned the state covering costs for inmates at a time when expenses were rising for non-inmate students." A compromise was reached in 2016 when New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance's office secured over $7.3 million dollars from recovered bank settlements to fund the college-in-prison program.

The College-in-Prison Reentry Program will offer more than 2,500 seats in hopes of reducing the chances of recidivism. "Prison isn't just about serving time for one's crimes. It's an opportunity to help those who have made mistakes rehabilitate and rebuild their lives," Governor Cuomo said. "...This program not only strengthens the futures of incarcerated individuals and their communities alike, but it will save taxpayer dollars in the long run."

Inmates participating in the College-in-Prison Reentry Program could earn an associate's or bachelor's degree, but inmates with longer sentences would not be eligible; only inmates with five years or less remaining on their sentences would be able to participate, according to the New York Times.

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