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Educating inmates is good for all of us

I would like to respond to the negative comments that have come in response to the governor’s interest to bring college education to inmates. I have taught for 36 years with the college program run by the Consortium of the Niagara Frontier. I have learned a number of important things during this work. One is that these college programs clearly reduce the recidivism rate, and that certainly ends up saving taxpayer money.

However, there is a further reason for such programs that I find even more important. That has to do with the very real meaning in seeing individuals turn their lives around. Viktor Frankl says the greatest power of the human spirit is to turn a tragedy into a triumph. I do believe people who have committed crimes have brought tragedy, both upon others and themselves. However, I have seen individuals time and again over these years face and own what they have done and make a commitment to having a better future than their tragic past.

I personally believe we owe it to ourselves as human beings to keep faith with this possibility. It is not just about the humanity of the inmates, but that of ourselves as well. To me, it amounts to faith in what we believe the human can be and in the power of the human spirit. The truth of the matter is that most, perhaps all, will eventually be released from prison. It is best that we try to help those who are willing to come back to the community a better person. I know firsthand that the college program contributes to this possibility.

Charles J. Sabatino

Amherst