New York prisoners may get free college education

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus Weekend church service at the Wilborn Temple on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus Weekend church service at the Wilborn Temple on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

A 3-year prison sentence for boosting cars may soon boost some prisoners’ careers.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing free college courses be offered to inmates in 10 prisons.

Cuomo says it costs taxpayers about $60,000 per year to incarcerate a prisoner, and a college education would add about $5,000 more per year.

According to Cuomo, it will save the state money to educate prisoners because those who get a college education while behind bars will be less likely to return to prison.

It would be even cheaper to not have prisons at all.

Cuomo, in a presentation to the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, said 40 percent of released prisoners without college degrees return to prison at some point. Those who earn college degrees through a current, privately-funded program return only 4 percent of the time, the governor said.

Since imprisoned students have more time to study and take tests, prisoners will be able to earn a bachelor’s degree in less than three years, said Cuomo.

“The college experience in prison really just enables the prisoner an opportunity to educate themselves … so that upon release they have a viable chance in competing with those who are already out here fighting for the very limited jobs that are available,” said Anthony Cardenales, who served 17 years for homicide and earned his bachelor’s degree in the privately-funded program and now gets quoted in newspapers.

This all sounds great for prisoners. I’m not so sure about taxpayers, many of whom never committed a crime and earned a college degree the old fashioned way and now will have to compete with college-educated prisoners for the “very limited” jobs.

Cuomo did not immediately specify if fraternities and sororities would be allowed on prison campuses.

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73 comments Add your comment


February 17th, 2014
1:58 pm

The state of Alabama already has a plan like this in place. Although the inmate is required to play Quarterback at Auburn for at least a year to repay society

Knowledge is Power

February 17th, 2014
2:40 pm

@ Don’t Tread

“The first one is easy. They are THERE because they don’t have a moral compass (i.e. bad parenting), and decided to go commit crimes instead of making an honest living.”

Having a “good” upbringing does not always mean you have high morals.

1. Timothy McVie
2. Jody Arias
3. Charles Mason
4. Mr. Snowden (traitor)
5. the Unibomber (highly educated)
6. Hitler
7. Casey Anthony

Need I go on…

I understand where you’re going with it…but you also have to look at how our system of justice is different for one and could be different for another one.

Just stating the facts Jack… Don’t shoot the messinger….. :)


February 17th, 2014
3:11 pm

Oh heck, what was I thinking?!?! I actually paid for college….gotta love how libs like to spend other people’s money!


February 17th, 2014
3:58 pm

Mush. I suspect that the ex-prisoners with college degrees who do not return to prison are non-violent, white collar types who are not career criminals. Many of the rest could not hold down jobs, given their lifestyles, even if handed Harvard degrees. That’s why they are in prison.

The notion that it’s cheaper not to have prisons is liberal bunk. Sure, the costs for prisons, guards, administrators would drop, but the costs, many fold, would shift to the victims of the free running criminals.


February 17th, 2014
4:24 pm

Since it is proven worldwide to lower costs and reduce recidivism, those who think education rehabilitation is soft on crime are hard on emotion, but soft on brains.


February 17th, 2014
4:37 pm

AJC needs to get rid of comments. It never fails, there is always too many idiotic comments with racist views, made by a vocal minority who only see color and not people or ideas. You know it’s bad when the first comment is by a racist : “I think this is a GREAT IDEA…since most prisoners are black do you actually think WHITE America will go for this…..I don’t think so…..”.

Don't Tread

February 17th, 2014
4:38 pm

“Having a “good” upbringing does not always mean you have high morals.”

I never claimed good parenting prevents a kid from becoming a criminal 100% of the time. (Strawman, meet match.) However, bad parenting nearly always results in a bad child that grows up to be a bad adult, and the rest of us have to pay to have them incarcerated because allowing them to roam about freely causes problems for the rest of us. Giving them a free college education paid for by the taxpayers (after the taxpayers are already paying for their housing, meals, and 24 hour supervision) and then letting them roam about freely solves nothing.

BTW, Mr. Snowden exposed the government’s blatantly unconstitutional monitoring of citizens en masse, and is hardly a traitor. The government is very clearly in the wrong, and has lost every court case regarding this issue to date. They’ll appeal that all the way to the Supreme Court (where they will most likely lose again), just like they recently lost Citizens United (1st Amendment) and Heller vs. DC (2nd Amendment), and a pile of district court cases. Maybe the government should concentrate on protecting the people’s rights instead of destroying them, and save us taxpayers some unnecessary legal fees in the process.


February 17th, 2014
4:39 pm

Free healthcare, Free food, Free lodging and now Free education–Why am I still working?

P.S. Wallace

February 17th, 2014
4:56 pm

As an addendum to my previous–from a practical perspective, after further thinking, I think felons who would be actually impacted (i.e., are at risk of recidivism unless education intervention of some sort) are far more likely to get hired with a welding certificate than something equivalent to a University of Phoenix degree–something society does not have a serious lack of. I’d emphasize votech over college, esp. because I believe there perhaps should be more dignity and respect due somebody having a useful skilled trade than a useless transcript.


February 17th, 2014
5:17 pm

That’s your problem. There is no white America and black America. Just America. Once you liberals get over that fact, you can overcome the racism embedded in your own culture/community.


February 17th, 2014
5:23 pm

This is unreal! I and millions of honest people are up to our rears in debt with student loans while these law breakers gets a free education. This makes me sick.

Marty R

February 17th, 2014
5:53 pm

Old physics teacher…. WELL SAID!

Mama says

February 17th, 2014
6:06 pm

I cannot stand the liberal thought process !!!

Tear down every thought of personal accountability, responsibility and morality and then tell me I have to not only pay for criminals uplifting but also that I have to pay my own way for having enough ethics not to rape, rob and steal.

Backwards thinking in all respects.

Working hard is what gives people confidence and pride not handouts, taken from those of us who dont think crime is the answer and who struggle everyday ourselves to make ends meet.

And you know what I dont give a crap if it’s black or white who are in prison. The fact is if they dont have the ability to refrain from crime without my handout then they can stay there.

I grew up in a house with holes in the floor and ceilings collapsing, I didn’t steal from others much less rape and rob and I ain’t giving them my money because they did and liberals want to reward them for it.

Free college should be for those who, despite their despair, maintain self respect and responsible societal standards.

Road Scholar

February 17th, 2014
6:08 pm

So those against this program is ok to pay $60K a year for 80% of those who are finally paroled and reenter a life of crime? A $5K investment to teach them skills they would never otherwise learn and maybe get some self worth, unlike some of the posters!


February 17th, 2014
6:19 pm

Fraternity and Sorority “brothers and sisters” The hell with that….And how many convicts are going to be offered a great job anyways? They will “learn” nothing in prison, but “earn” a college education on the dime of the very people they offended against….I CALL BS ON Cuomo….wanna be lib president.

Kamchak ~ Thug From The Steppes

February 17th, 2014
7:33 pm

…I ain’t giving them my money…

Once you pay your taxes, it ain’t your money anymore.

Just sayin’.

Full britches

February 18th, 2014
2:23 am

More gibs. smh. Unbelievable.

[...] Andrew Cuomo is proposing free college education for 10 prisons across the state of New York (AJC). It currently costs $60,000 to hold a prisoner, per year, and giving these people an education [...]


February 18th, 2014
7:22 am

It’s actually a great idea. I’m about as conservative as you can get. But if this program candecrease, even a little, the number of those who return to prison it benefits taxpayers who foot the huge bill to house someone in a prison. Sure the prisoner benefits but the real benefit that I care about – assuming this works to some degree as far as keeping them out of prison – is to the taxpayer. I’m all for it if that’s the case.


February 18th, 2014
8:35 am

Exactly what our country needs is an increase in cost to house inmates and smarter criminals.


February 18th, 2014
2:11 pm

Since most inmates are BLACK, and most unemployed and welfare recipients are BLACK. We should cut there welfare checks by 10% to pay for this??HMM don’t this the BLACK community would go for this. Why should the majority of WHITE people pay for the MAJORITY of BLACK peoples kids education while locked up in jail. We should at least get them a GED……..for FREE…and make them take out a loan for college just like everybody else. This suggestion is about as stupid or stupidER than giving illegal immigrants drivers licensees. WAKE UP AMERICA!!

Michigander from NY

February 19th, 2014
11:21 pm

That sounds like a wonderful NY thing. And guess what?? they still won’t be able to get a job when they get out, bc no one is gonna hire an ex-con even if he now has a stupid jail degree. Dumb dumb dumb. Waste of money. I got an idea, make em work while they’re in the joint. Put em to work doing something for us law abiding citizens…and make em pay off their miserable debt to society. Don’t reward them w a several thousand dollar education. Grrrrr NY is so stupid.

zhang b.

February 20th, 2014
12:05 pm

this is an old concept. college and ged courses were once fairly common in many state correctional facilities. congress defunded about 20 years ago similar programs. it might actually be cheaper than estimated if MOCC courses are utilized. trouble is the prisoners are more likely to need GED courses rather than college.