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Opinion

March 19, 2014

In Your Opinion: College for inmates is good investment

Thank you for reporting that local state politicians Seward, Tenney, Lopez and Magee oppose the governor’s proposal to provide college education for prisoners.

It’s too bad that our politicians are more concerned with revenge than rehabilitation. If all we do is punish criminals and then release them, most fall back on past antisocial behaviors to survive. It is cheaper and more useful to give criminals the tools to re-enter society, get decent jobs, and be productive citizens. 

These politicians assert it isn’t fair to pay prisoners’ education without paying for college for the rest of us. I consider it fairer to pay a share of their education than to be repeatedly assaulted, robbed and burglarized (as I’ve been).

College should be free for everybody, not just prisoners. I wish I could have afforded it. My dad went to college for free, first at CUNY (because New York City formerly thought it was right to provide a free college education). Then the Navy sent him to MIT. Then the G.I. Bill paid for him to go to a couple more universities, where he got a doctorate. A study about people like him who went to college on the G.I. Bill found that they returned more than $7 to the economy for every $1 that we taxpayers spent to send them to school.

I suspect our region’s representatives oppose universal higher education because they’re afraid that informed people won’t re-elect them.

I’m not generally a fan of Cuomo, either, but he’s right about this small money-saving proposal. It averaged $23,876 to imprison someone in 2005. Two semesters at SUNY Delhi costs $6,315. Educating prisoners makes us all more secure. It promotes intelligence, jobs, responsibility and possibilities.

Michael Kaufman

Bovina

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