HOST: When New York State approved its annual budget last week, it included a loss for Governor Andrew Cuomo–who had hoped to launch an initiative that would expand college programs in state prisons. Now, he’s asking private foundations and non-profits if they can fill the gap. Katie Toth reports.
If you’re an inmate in a New York State prison, you have a 40 per cent chance of ending up back behind bars. But prisoners enrolled in the system’s nineteen college programs? Their chances of returning are as little as a tenth of that number.
That’s why Governor Cuomo announced a plan earlier this year to the Minority Legislative Caucus. He said it was time for the state to fund college in 10 prisons across the state.
CUOMO: Let’s invest and rehabilitate people so that they have a future. That’s what works. (0:08)
The caucus applauded the plan. But some of their colleagues were unimpressed. Senate Republican Greg Ball of Brewster was one of them. He says expanding college for inmates is like–
BALL: –Pushing them through a program where they get a degree in basket weaving and have nothing that they can use. (0:05)
Ball says his constituents are having a hard enough time paying for university themselves.
BALL: We have kids, they’re drowning in debt, they’re living in their parents’ basement, they’re paying near credit card rates for student loans, and people were upset. (0:07)
When it was clear there wasn’t enough support, Cuomo dropped the plan from his executive budget. But he still wants it to happen. And the model he cites is a program run by Bard College.