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A New York State senator is launching a petition aimed at halting Governor Cuomo’s proposal to provide college classes for prisoners.

Republican Sen. Greg Ball is opposed to Cuomo’s proposal aimed at reducing recidivism by providing inmates with college classes to eventually achieve an associate's or even a bachelor's degree.

Cuomo says the program would cut down on inmates returning to jail and eventually lower the amount the state spends on its prisoners. New York spends $60,000 a year on a single inmate; one year of college classes costs $5,000.

But several representatives are coming forward, saying public money shouldn’t be used on prisoners’ college education.

Ball’s petition titled “Hell no to Attica University” says “free college tuition for prisoners is a slap in the face to hard working New Yorkers that work multiple jobs and take out exorbitant student loans to pay for the cost of higher education.”

Congressman Chris Collins released a statement Wednesday afternoon, calling the proposal "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.”

Cuomo plans to add the proposal to his amended budget later this month.

UPDATE: Assemblyman Steve Hawley's office also released a statement addressing the proposal:

“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,” said Hawley. “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.”

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# Alfonso Medero
Thursday, February 20, 2014 3:20 AM
There are merits on both sides of the argument, however, an education without a policy to lift the stigma and isolation of ex-felons from the job market is a helpless cause. I have seen ex-felons' with Graduate degrees turned down for primary work for not being able to pass a background check that was twenty years in the past. When does the ex-felon get restored, or does he or she ever get restored into our society. Did they ever stop being a United States Citizen? Punishment without Mercy will never turn a life around, and gainful employment will keep those who have paid their dues focused on embracing the interest of society.
# Anonymous User
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 1:09 PM
Rep. Collins Announces 'Kids Before Cons' Act

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