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Sad Week for Lower Recidivism



What is prison like

It was just last month that discussed, in Inmates are Coming, that Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a plan to offer college programs at ten New York state prisons. Immediately, there was an outcry against this program. The program would have offered associate and bachelor degree education at 10 prisons, one in each region of the state. New York currently spends about $60,000 per year on each prisoner. Gov. Cuomo’s press release indicated it would cost approximately $5,000 per year to educate an inmate. Comments in newspapers and the internet ranged from ridicule to open hostility to providing education to inmates who qualify for this program. Opponents screamed that the program would pamper inmates.

Unfortunately, the opponents to this worthwhile program defeated the proposal. The majority of New York inmates (minorities) are from downstate while the majority of the prisons are located in upstate New York. For the most part, the upstate state prisons are located in largely Republican and majority white counties. The opposition to the inspired plan came from the Republican controlled state senate. The popular opposition focused on the idea of the unfairness of providing a free education to prison inmates.

This shortsighted view ignored simple facts. It cost the state of New York $60,000 a year to incarcerate an inmate. The proposed education plan would have cost $5,000 a year to educate an inmate.

Teresa Miller, a professor at the University of Buffalo, has studied New York prisons. The professor’s studies have shown the connection between education and lowering recidivism. Professor Miller has stated:

“When you consider that an inmate simply participating in a college program reduces his likelihood of re-offending after release by 46 percent, the impact of college coursework is impressive.  When you consider that an inmate who earns a college degree in prison reduces his likelihood of re-offending from a national average of 60 percent to a mere 5.6 percent, the impact is astounding.”

Studies throughout the United States have shown that education for inmates increases successful re-entries and substantially lowers recidivism. Lower recidivism means a better society for all including the opponents to this worthwhile education plan for inmates.

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Keith McCrea

I had the unfortunate experience of having to do 3 prison bids before I received the “LIGHT BULB” moment. A college education behind the walls is essential in overcoming the everyday
street violence/prison mentality encounters. It pays high dividends in growth & development.

Kalyan c marella

As a person working in prison I can say that every inmate needs education. In Andhra Pradesh, India we are providing free education and encouraging the inmates to get needful education and to get soft skills& vocational training in making steel furniture, in power looms etc., to get the knowledge to get the livelihood after they got released from prison.

Marj Oughton

There are two pieces to the problem of getting public buy in. One is that many folks have kids in college who are accumulating college loan debt at a terrible rate. This prevents the graduates from starting their lives because they can’t get mortgages, have families, etc. because of this debt. Those folks would have difficulty with an inmate getting a free education when their kids are submerged in debt and can’t find a decent job when they graduate. The other problem is our national inability to decide whether we are trying to rehabilitate prisoners or just punish them. We… Read more »


Clearly the public needs to be educated. Economic issues aside, the public does not recognize that they are a major factor impacting on recidivism. With no skill sets (or even with them), no job, no place to live, unwelcome in our churches, often no family, etc., the ex-offenders go back to the only life they know. We desperately need initiatives such as Gov. Cuomo’s, but we also need Dr. Harold Trulear’s ‘Healing Communities’ program. I often worry deeply about those inmates we bring to Christ: What happens to their faith when they are rejected prospective employers, landlords, churches, and family?… Read more »


Transition-to-outside preparation with group support inside, then half-way housing with spiritual, skills and work development, and then continuing accountability in groups is an outline of the Cephas program on the west end of state. It works very well, but it’s on a small scale. The “sleeping giant” to get NYS to see the fruits of a sensible build up the prisoner, with education, spiritual reconnection and mental health, that rests with the people in the pew. I love Kairos because it seeks just these very connections. God be praised, and may we lift up Christ abiding in his Spirit. wm+… Read more »


I don’t understand the out cry for educating prisoners.
By Willie


There’s no room to build a prison in the city!! The prisons are built where land is available
These are usually in rural areas and the majority if employees are white it’s demographics not race or done intentionally. As for educating inmates It’s really redundant they are felons and can’t use the degree 98% of the time.


Formerly incarcerated in NY State I am very familiar with the educational offerings in the state. Fortunately, I already had a college degree so I did not participate in the program. I was friends with several of the women who participated in the Bard College program. Kudos to those women who participated at Taconic – they had no access to computers or internet research – all papers were hand written etc…despite these difficulties among others these woman were able to succeed and complete the courses. The Bard program not only offered support for those enrolled in the program while incarcerated… Read more »