Education for inmates: for free or a loan?


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Governor Andrew Cuomo recently introduced a proposal to use state funds to pay for inmates to get a college degree. This initiative has sparked a heated debate.

Most recently Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen proposed that the money used for the program should be a loan that’s repayable upon a prisoner’s release and employment.

“If we’re talking about helping inmates to do better, make them responsible for the amount of tuition or at least a portion that the state is paying,” said Pridgen.

Governor Cuomo said currently taxpayers spend about $60,000 a year to keep someone behind bars. The governor said educating inmates will cost about $5,000 more and cut down on the number of people who go back into the system.

Recently the governor defended the controversial proposal.

“If you want to say forget the compassionate, forget assisting the person in their life, just on the dollar and cents, it’s a smart investment if you want to save money,” Cuomo said.

Local college student Lindsay Severino told News 4 she thinks the proposal isn’t fair. She said why work to pay for school, when she could do the same thing behind bars.

“Honestly I would rather go to prison than pay $100,000 of debt for the rest of my life,” said Severino.

Council President Pridgen said he sympathizes with students, that’s why he believes in the repayment plan.

“By doing that we could create a fund that would help future inmates who want to go to school,” said Pridgen.

Senator Mark Grisanti also has a proposal, an online petition protesting the governor’s plan. So far his petition has more than 6,000 signatures. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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