Assemblyman Brian Curran (Lynbrook – 21st A.D.) recently denounced the governor’s proposal to provide inmates in New York State with free college degrees while they serve their sentences. Gov. Cuomo has estimated it will cost an additional $5,000 annually per inmate if his college education proposal is passed. The current cost per year to house one inmate is $60,000.
“Using taxpayer dollars to fund free higher education for criminals is wrong, especially when so many of our law-abiding working families and young adults have trouble affording it themselves,” said Assemblyman Brian Curran. “Too many of our neighbors of all ages are already burdened with overwhelming student loans. Put simply, we have to address the soaring cost of education – not reward those who made wrong decisions in life.”
“I’m deeply disappointed in Governor Cuomo’s proposal to give convicts a taxpayer-funded college education when so many families and students in my district and across Long Island have trouble making ends meat to afford higher education. There are so many better educational priorities New York should focus on, like giving Long Islanders their fair share of education funding, better grant opportunities for all and trying to lower the cost of public higher ed at SUNY schools,” said Assemblyman Curran.
The average student in New York State pays between $42,920 and $163,688 for a 4-year degree, accumulating an average student loan debt of $25,537. Typically, students have loan repayment terms ranging from 10-20 years. New York State already offers a college education program for inmates. The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), is a privately-funded program through Bard College. The program currently operates in six prisons across New York State, offering liberal arts studies toward associates and bachelor’s degrees. The program enrolls about 275 inmates.
“Every year, students enroll in college to create a brighter future, many realizing that they will have to endure substantial debt after graduation. But at the end of the day, they know that their college degree is a great investment,” said Curran. “Incarcerated men and women gave up that opportunity when they broke the law. There are programs now that can guide them through the rehabilitation process and let qualified inmates receive college degrees through private funding. Let’s not reward criminals for committing crimes, and instead focus on how to reduce the financial struggle that our college graduates face.”
Assemblyman Curran and dozens of his colleagues from around the state urged neighbors to join them in sending a message to Gov. Cuomo that it is more important to help New York’s families and students than provide free college tuition to convicted criminals. Sign the online petition at https://sites.google.com/site/kidsbeforecons.