NY Expanding Prison Education With Criminal Forfeiture Funds

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New York state is moving ahead with a controversial plan to expand a rehabilitation program for some inmates, reports CBS News. If education is said to free the mind, it is the only freedom for a group of prisoners at the Taconic Correctional Facility in Bedford Hills. N.Y. “So having done Plato and thought about early Christianity, Roman notions of virtue, we now have a chance to really think seriously about Augustine and his views, and I think it’s really pretty mind-blowing, right?” says Columbia University philosophy Prof. Christia Mercer. Twenty-two colleges and universities send professors behind the walls every week. This fall, the program will expand, over the objections of state lawmakers, who rebuffed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s request for more money. Cuomo teamed up with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance to divert $7.5 million in criminal forfeiture money to add at least 800 more students.

 

Student Leah Faria has been incarcerated 19 years and goes before the parole board for the first time in 2018, says, “You know, it’s going to be bad enough I’m leaving prison with a felony — homicide at that! The worst of the worst, so I have to be prepared. I have to basically, I say armored up, you know, to go back into society so I can be a success.”  She is one of nearly 900 students enrolled throughout New York state prisons in an education program, offering associates, bachelors and even master’s degrees from some of the country’s most elite universities, like Columbia, Bard, Cornell, and Vassar.

 

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