Murray: Under Governor’s Plan Criminals Get a Free College Degree & Law Abiding Citizens Pick Up The Tab

August 18, 2017

This past week, Gov. Cuomo announced his plan to provide $7.3 million in funding for programs to give prison inmates a college education, a proposal Assemblyman Dean Murray (R,C,I-East Patchogue) deems incredibly unfair.

“Why should a convicted criminal be able to earn a free degree from Cornell University when law-abiding taxpayers not only have to pay thousands of dollars for their own degrees but also have to fight for a spot at such a prominent college,” said Murray. “It is outrageous that even though these people broke the law, were convicted and sent to prison, Gov. Cuomo wants to give them a break and offer them a free college education. Meanwhile, there are so many hard-working model citizens who don’t even have that opportunity because of the high cost of college.”

The program, which would start with a trial run of about 2,500 inmates, would allow eligible inmates, those with five years or less left on their sentences, to earn a bachelor’s or associate’s degree from a variety of institutions including Cornell University, New York University and Mercy College.

The idea was brought to light in 2014, but was shot down by many who felt that using public funds to provide something to convicted criminals that most honest citizens struggle to pay for was patently unfair. Just a few weeks ago in late June, a tuition increase went into effect for those taxpaying, law-abiding New Yorkers who did not qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship Program.

“There are many underfunded higher education programs this money could be used for, but instead it will be used to reward those who have chosen to break the law. What does this teach or say to those who do follow the law? It is surely a slap in the face to all of those hard working young men and women who go unrewarded for being good, upstanding citizens,” said Murray.