College students have to pay, why shouldn’t convicted felons?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently proposed a plan for taxpayers to fund college classes in New York prisons, saying a college degree will reduce the likelihood of an inmate returning to a life of crime when released.

So, as I type this out, thousands of dollars in student loan debt, just three months away from graduation, I wish I could just go back in time and not go to college. Instead, I’d rob a bank, maybe deal some hard drugs on the side, and get locked up for a few years so I could eventually get into this proposed inmate education program. I could have gotten my college tuition paid for, and wouldn’t have to worry about any stress of financial burden or fear of not finding a job right away to pay all of my loans on time. I clearly made the wrong decision by deciding to be a law-abiding citizen. I’m such an idiot.

Thanks, Cuomo.

Now obviously, I would do none of that. But it does infuriate me that Cuomo could propose to offer an immense gift like that to prisoners, a gift that any hard-working college student would kill for. Any college student who doesn’t have their college paid for should understand that there is nothing justified about this plan.

In an article from WBEN, Senator George Maziarz said he was at a loss for words upon hearing the initiative.

“What we could do is try to help give law-abiding, decent individuals the opportunity to go to a college in the State of New York, before we worry about inmates,” Maziarz said.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Giving inmates a free education is teaching them that their awful behavior is rewarded.

Councilman Darius Pridgen was quoted saying he felt that the inmates should be offered the opportunity to receive the education, but they should borrow the money from the state and pay it back in loans. I think this is an excellent idea. Education is a powerful thing, and I absolutely believe allowing inmates access to education is a positive concept. I think inmates should be allowed the opportunity, but let them do what any student has to do: borrow money now, and pay loans over time with the success Cuomo claims will come from such programs in the first place.

The issue here isn’t education; it’s fairness. It comes down to the difference between right and wrong. It’s wrong to let people who made bad life choices get a free college degree, when kids who worked hard and stayed on a good path in life are looking at thousands, sometimes even hundreds of thousands, of dollars of debt after they graduate. It’s simply not fair, but more importantly, it’s not ethical.

Cuomo said that he knows for a fact the recidivism rates will go down if this proposal is passed. I understand what he is trying to do, but not only are we being taxed to pay for the cost of keeping prisoners incarcerated, we would be paying a tax for their education as well. For every prisoner who gets an education and betters themselves (no one can 100% guarantee that they will actually do something with their education), there’s one more bad person out there in the world, getting caught and sent into prison. There’s always going to be immoral people who break the law. I just don’t see how paying another tax for their education is going to make us spend less money.

I think it was a poor choice by Cuomo to enact a plan like this. I think Pridgen and Cuomo should do lunch sometime, because clearly Pridgen knows what he’s talking about. Inmates are in prison as a punishment, not to gain an immensely beneficial asset that law-abiding citizens aren’t even allowed.

Luckily, this horrible proposal is just that — a proposal. I have a proposal: How about Cuomo figures out a way to get every aspiring college student and currently enrolled college students’ educations paid for, then he can give a free degree to any inmate he wants? Try that, Cuomo.

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