College programs will save millions
As a former director of college programs at Attica and Albion prisons in the 1980s, I can tell you that the economics are the same now as they were then, a huge plus for the taxpayer. The two numbers to pay attention to are the recidivism rate – 50 percent – and the cost per inmate per year – $60,000. By investing $5,000 per year for a college education, that recidivism rate is reduced by half or more.
The New York State prison system has approximately 60,000 inmates. Without college, 30,000 inmates will return to prison. With the college program, which studies have shown reduces recidivism by at least 50 percent, that number is reduced to 15,000. The savings to taxpayers is $900 million. New York State is presently spending $3.6 billion per year on prisons.
Every inmate in the system is not college material and you can nitpick my numbers, but you cannot dispute that college programs in prisons make a great deal of sense and save taxpayers a huge amount of money.