Governor Andrew Cuomo defended his plan for giving prison inmates a free college education during a stop this week in Amherst. But some local lawmakers aren't buying it.
According to the governor, a 10-year prison sentence costs taxpayers $600,000 and after release about half end up back in prison. But educating an inmate, Cuomo says, would cost $5,000 a year and would reduce the recidivism rate to 5%.
"If you just wanted to save money and if you said 'I'm tired of paying taxes and the taxes are too high and I can't afford it and I can't pay taxes and pay for my kid's tuition,' it's cheaper to provide an education in college because the recidivism rate comes way down," Cuomo said.
But the majority caucus of the Erie County Legislature plans to go on record opposing the idea. Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo says the governor's plan is "absurd."
"The goal of prison isn't just to punish, it's also to rehabilitate. But I don't see [why] regular people who haven't committed any crimes and have to pay for their college tuition should be at a disadvantage to convicted felons because they get free tuition. It doesn't make any sense," Lorigo says.
The caucus is set to approve a resolution against Cuomo's proposal in two weeks. Lorigo says it will be sent to the governor's office and to the state delegation.