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Mixed Thoughts On Cuomo's Plan For Inmate Education

Inmates in New York State may soon be able to leave prison with a degree.
Inmates in New York State may soon be able to leave prison with a degree. 

New York spends $60,000 a year to keep on inmate incarcerated. The state estimates educating one inmate will cost around $5,000 and will break the cycle of crime. At his job at the New York Literary Center, Dale Davis reads a letter from a former student. The student wrote it as he got ready to serve six years in prison.

"Cuomo's program would've given him a chance for college," Davis said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to give inmates in 10 state prisons access to college classes. Davis has been running a supplemental learning program at the Monroe County Jail for a decade. She says her 20 students, all inmates, welcome the chance to learn.

"Many of them have been absent or dropped out of school for a number of reasons. Education didn't work with them," she said.

Paul McFadden spent 10 years behind bars, during which he earned 70 college credits. McFadden says he maintained a 4.0 GPA and was on the Dean's list. But his accomplishments did not amount to much upon his release. 

"I wanted to be able to consolidate those credits and continue on furthering my higher education; and after a thorough review it was found that 50 percent of my credits were not good," he said.

Cuomo's plan is drawing criticism. Many feel as though convicted criminals should not have access to a free education. The state has not announced which prisons will have the degree programs. A request for a proposal will be issued next month. 
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