Legislator suggests loans rather than free college for inmates

Mar 13, 2014

A local lawmaker is proposing an alternative to Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to give prison inmates a free college education.

Cuomo says his plan would save taxpayers money because inmates who can find a job upon release are less likely to return to prison. Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, a Democrat, is submitting a resolution calling on the state to give inmates pursuing a degree a student loan instead.

Legislator Betty Jean Grant is proposing an alternative to free college for prison inmates.
Credit Chris Caya/WBFO News

"If they're educated in prison and they come out, they have a great opportunity to get a job if they have that college degree. However, we don't believe that the taxpayers of New York State should subsidize this. We believe that inmates should be on the same criteria of borrowing the money as any student," Grant said at a news conference Thursday.

Grant's colleagues in the Republican majority plan to approve a resolution at today's session opposing Cuomo's free education plan for inmates.

Even though she is opposed, Grant says she won't vote in favor of it because it's not a solution. She says the majority is simply saying no. 

Grant announced last month that she is running for the State Senate seat currently held by Senator Tim Kennedy in this fall's primary election.