College for Criminals

You must know by now I am conservative in my views and this sometimes is the slant of some of our columnists. That being said, I would like to address New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s stance on providing monies for the State’s jail inmate population.

I am in favor of it.

Prison is a bleak existence and many who have not experienced the sensation beyond television and movies, think punishment is the chief motive behind locking a criminal behind bars. I would agree in some cases that incarceration is a great hinderance to crime and indeed a punishment that is necessary. But let’s take one step further. Statistics have shown us time and time again that prison begets prison.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that released prisoners with the highest rearrest rates were robbers (70.2%), burglars (74.0%), larcenists (74.6%), motor vehicle thieves (78.8%), those in prison for possessing or selling stolen property (77.4%), and those in prison for possessing, using, or selling illegal weapons (70.2%).

Within 3 years, 2.5% of released rapists were arrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for homicide.

This shows that the criminals with the worst crimes, rapes and murders,  the ones we most fear and loath, were the least likely to re-commit.

The Governor states it costs $60,000 per year to house a prison, yet only $5000 more to provide them with college classes.

The recidivism rate for prisoners who take classes is 4 percent and the rate for graduates is 2.5 percent.

It seems the criminal justice system is great at punishment, lousy at future prevention.

A knee-jerk reaction to the Governor’s proposal came mainly from uneducated Republicans/Conservatives who still think that if you spare the rod, you spoil the child. One Western New York Board of Supervisors even passed a resolution against the idea of college for inmates.

The quick-draws proclaim it is unfair to provide college for inmates since they have to fork over hard earned money for their own kid’s tuition. They also claim a college education will never ensure a job for someone released from prison.

Please refer to the statistics. It cost $60,000 per year to keep someone behind bars. Ask yourself this question– Would you hire someone straight out of prison that had no incentive to move beyond a life of crime by not taking college courses, or someone with the initiative to change?

Am I happy we have to provide college monies for prisoners? No, but the alternative is the wheel of crime continues and we do not learn from our mistakes of what a prison should produce. I am also not happy we have to provide food stamps to the lazy, rent subsidies to generations of dead-beats, but I also understand there are circumstances when a helping hand is needed.

Am I all pleased with the Governor’s approach on many subjects? Hell no, I still wish his parents decided to watch the Tonight Show instead of procreating. But on this one subject…

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