New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced Sunday that the state would start supporting college degree programs in state prisons. Since Congress barred the use of Pell Grants for prisoners in 1994, many higher education programs in prisons have been eliminated or substantially reduced, making the New York State initiative notable as a move in the opposite direction. New York will offer associate and bachelor's programs in 10 prisons (one in each region of the state). Governor Cuomo said that the state would end up saving money on the effort. The state will pay roughly $5,000 a year to educate a prisoner, but the state pays $60,000 a year to incarcerate a prisoner. The state's recidivism rate is currently 40 percent, but studies have shown that inmates who earn college degrees are far less likely than other prisoners to return to jail.
"Giving men and women in prison the opportunity to earn a college degree costs our state less and benefits our society more," said a statement from Cuomo.