The Center for Community Alternatives applauds Governor Cuomo’s initiative to expand access to college for people in prison. This is yet another example of the Governor’s leadership in being smart on crime and focused on public safety. A recent study by the RAND Corporation based upon 30 years of research shows that people who participated in education while incarcerated had significantly lower rates of recidivism than those who did not. In New York State, a prison-based college education program directed by Bard College shows a recidivism rate of only 4 percent for people who attended the program compared to New York’s overall recidivism rate which hovers around 40 percent.
Providing college education opportunities for people in prison should not be counterposed with such opportunities for people in the general community. Both are important. Prison-based college education costs very little, especially compared to the costs of incarceration and even when prisoners had access to public grants such as TAP or PELL, these costs were less than 1 percent of grant awards.
The Governor’s Plan makes good sense – it will reduce recividism and help make formerly incarcerated people productive and taxpaying citizens who in turn will contribute to the very tax base that supports our SUNY system.
CCA is proud to support this first step at restoring higher education to people in prison.