Flawed plan for jail education

Just when it seems the senseless ideas out of Albany have stopped, the people there do something to prove that they have not yet reached the bottom of the well. This was driven home by state Gov. Andrew Cuomo announcing his plan to give out college educations to inmates in state prisons.

The very idea seems absurd, it boggles the mind and leaves one in a disoriented state trying to comprehend such rationale.

The governor’s plan becomes so irrational when one stops to think about the hardship that so many people go through to receive a college education. Take in to account several scenarios. First, you have the parents who for years save all in hopes of putting a dent into the ever-increasing cost of college that their child will incur. Then, you have the individual with a family who is already living paycheck to paycheck working full-time, but trying to squeak by taking night courses in an attempt to obtain a degree in hopes of obtaining a brighter future and be able to be a better provider.

The third scenario is also probably one of the most common with kids who have worked hard through high school and got good grades but are not either athletically talented enough, smart enough, or of quite low enough on the poverty ladder to get a free ride through college must incur thousands of dollars in debt in order to obtain a college degree.

Which those individuals must then turn around and spend a good portion of their adult life paying back. Is the governor serious when he would rather help convicted felons than these hard-working, honest people get ahead?

Then start adding up the cost and you will get shock. There are currently some 54,000 inmates in the state’s prison system, and by the governor’s own estimate, it will cost $5,000 a year per individual.

So for one convict’s four-year degree, that would be $20,000. Now let’s say 1,000 convicts out of that 54,000 take up the governor’s offer. That would be $20 million. One would think that money would be much better spent on some of the many other things in this state that could use help from crumbling roads and bridges to hospitals and schools.

Now let’s say we have decided to pay to give out these degrees to these convicted felons, we come to another problem – who is going to hire many of these people with a criminal record for a job that it is necessary to have the degree in the first place?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t see a lot of people convicted of armed robbery being able to put their new accounting degree into running a business’ finances in the same way I don’t see a lot of parents being thrilled that their kid’s teacher got their education degree while doing a 10-year stint for being a cocaine dealer.

So parents, stop scrimping and saving for that college fund for the kid’s future and you teens getting ready to go off to college don’t bother finding out about financial aid or think about enlisting to get the military to pay for your college.

No, the governor has a better plan, so stop writing that scholarship application; instead, start working out a plan to rob a liquor store.

Tyler Pett is a Fredonia resident.