A statewide initiative will start to expand opportunities for prisoners to get college degrees, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today.
Cuomo said New York’s recidivism rate for incarceration is 40 percent, and the state spends $60,000 a year to house each prisoner. He said the program would help keep prisoners from returning to jail and will start by partnering local colleges with 10 prisons, which are mainly upstate.
“Giving men and women in prison the opportunity to earn a college degree costs our state less and benefits our society more,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The initiative will provide college courses at the 10 prisons through a selection process and offer associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, he said. The state will begin accepting proposals March 3.
Cuomo said the program will cost about $5,000 per year to provide a year of college courses for one inmate. The program will be funded through a partnership among the colleges, state and private sector.
It’s based, in part, after a successful program at Bard College in Dutchess County.
Cuomo made the announcement during Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus weekend at the Capitol. He said the state’s inmate population is 49 percent African American, 24 percent Hispanic and 24 percent white.
“A college education is a vital asset for men and women to successfully move forward with their lives after prison,” said Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, D-Mount Vernon, Westchester County, in a statement.