Editorial Board

Taxpayer money should not fund inmate higher education program

Though higher education should be accessible to everyone, taxpayer money should not be used to fund Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed Prison U. program.

On Sunday, Cuomo announced plans for a Prison U. program which will give prison inmates the ability to take college courses and work toward earning either an associate or bachelor’s degree. One of the goals of the program is to save money, as providing inmates with an education is less expensive than the costs of maintaining facilities and providing for inmates, according to a Feb. 16 New York Post article.

New York state spends $3.6 billion a year on prisons. The state spends $60,000 a year per inmate. Providing an inmate with the opportunity to take college courses would cost $5,000 a year, according to the article.

Affording higher education is a problem that many people in this country face. It is not fair to give inmates access to higher education when there are law-abiding citizens who work hard to earn the grades required to be admitted to college that cannot attend a college or the college of their choosing because of financial issues.

Inmates should have access to higher education, but not on the taxpayer’s dollar. Though taxpayer money is used to maintain correctional facilities and this program is meant to reduce the amount of taxpayer money that will be necessary to do so, the benefits of the program could take years to come to fruition, if ever.


Though some inmates can likely benefit from seeking further education and programs like this should be explored, it is not up to taxpayers to provide the means for them, especially when there are so many others outside of the prison system struggling to pay for their education.

The cost of higher education is a nationwide problem, and one that has yet to be solved. Before we look to provide programs like Prison U. we must try to find a way to make higher education more accessible to the general public.

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