NY Assemblyman starts petition against college degrees for inmates

Updated: 02/20/2014 5:47 PM
Created: 02/20/2014 5:35 PM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean

The governor's plan to spend taxpayer money to get some state inmates college degrees has had a lot of people talking. The governor says it's the right thing to do morally and financially. But now there's a petition to stop it.

The petition is called Kids before Cons. The state lawmaker who started it is Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin. News10NBC reached him by phone in Albany.

Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, (R-Troy), said, “I said you know what, this is the wrong thing to do. When you have struggling middle class people that can't put enough money away for their own children to go to college and I have a governor who says we should pay for convicts to go to school. I said enough is enough. It's a slap in the face of the middle class.”

Governor Cuomo says the cost to house a prisoner is $60,000 per year and 50 percent of prisoners who are released end up back inside, costing the state another $60,000 a year. The governor says if you spend $5,000 to get qualified inmates college credits and maybe a degree, the chance they end up back in prison is only four percent. 

But News10NBC asked the governor the question we're hearing the most from you. What do you say to parents struggling to pay for college for their children?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “They understand how expensive college is and then they have to pay this state's taxes on top of it and what they're really saying is I can't pay all these bills and the taxes are driving me crazy. You want to save money? Get the inmate educational skills, the recidivism rate goes down to four percent, believe it or not.”

Assemblyman McLaughlin says the reality is ex-cons are going to have a hard time getting a job whether they have a degree or not. He says teach them a trade or skill and save your education money for kids. 

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