Hawley and Collins blast proposal for inmate college assistance

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 February 2014 at 12:00 am

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Congressman Chris Collins have joined the chorus of opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to provide college resources to some inmates.

Cuomo announced on Sunday the state will expand opportunities for inmates to get college degrees as a way to keep them from returning to prison. The plan would ultimately save tax dollars, the governor said.

He said the state pays $60,000 a year to keep a prisoner incarcerated with a 40 percent recidivism rate. College programs in prison cost taxpayers $5,000 a year per prisoner, and reduce the rates for them to return to crime, he said.

Congressman Chris Collins (R-Clarence) released this statement today:

“The Governor’s latest plan to fund college educations for convicted criminals with New Yorkers’ tax dollars is an insult to law abiding citizens all across our state who are struggling to pay for higher education or find employment in this stagnant economy. This plan is just the latest sign that for a state that is the highest taxed and ranks among the worst in job creation, Albany has its priorities all screwed up.”

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) issued this statement:

“The governor’s plan to give free college to convicts is one of the worst ideas I’ve heard during my tenure as an assemblyman. It’s insulting to middle-class Western New Yorkers who are taking on debts over $50,000 to go to college. This plan punishes law-abiding citizens while rewarding criminals. Not only is this idea wrong in principle, but it may cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. We should never ask taxpayers to pay for the college education of convicts while they are taking on debt to pay for their own.”