New York state will launch a college-education program for prisoners at 10 facilities in an effort to cut recidivism and the size of the prison population, reports the Wall Street Journal. The program will offer both associate's and bachelor's degrees by bringing college professors to prisons—one in each region of the state. The administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo estimates that while the state spends $60,000 for each incarcerated individual—”more money than it takes to send a person to Harvard University for a year,” Cuomo said—it would cost $5,000 for a year of college education for an inmate.
Inmates who earn degrees are far less likely to return to prison. New York's recidivism rate stands at 40 percent. An existing program called the Bard Prison Initiative—which provides a Bard College degree to incarcerated individuals at six state prisons—has a recidivism rate of 4 percent for those in the program since 1999. “You have to ask yourself, are we really correcting anything?,” Cuomo said, citing the title of the Department of Corrections. “And what are we accomplishing for all that money? We're imprisoning, we're isolating. But we're not rehabilitating the way we should.”.