Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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February 21, 2014

Prison plan objection grows

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Local officials continued to express their opposition Thursday to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to provide college education to state prisoners.

Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour was the latest to announce his opposition when called for comment, saying that while it would be good to reduce the number of inmates returning to state prisons, Cuomo’s plan isn’t fair to law-abiders.

“There’s too many kids who need to go to college who might not get the chance because of money,” Voutour said. “It’s not fair to people who follow the law and still might not have an opportunity to go to college.”

U.S. Rep. Christopher Collins, R-Clarence, announced Thursday that he will introduce legislation that will prohibit federal taxpayer dollars from being used to provide college educations to convicted criminals.

The legislation will be introduced in coming days, according to a press release from Collins’ office. Collins said he will also introduce a limiting rider to the House of Representatives later this year to ensure no appropriated funds in a particular bill are used to fund college courses for convicted criminals.

The bill would not ban states from using federal dollars to support GED or work training programs in prisons and correctional facilities.

Collins called Gov. Cuomo’s plan “an insult to law abiding citizens across our state.”

“We hear over and over again from politicians concerned about the growing cost of higher education and the amount of student debt our young people are sacked with after earning their degree,” Collins said. “Strangely, many of these same politicians think tax dollars should be spent to give convicted criminals a free college degree.”

Sen. Mark Grisanti’s petition against the plan collected over 5,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon, exceeding the goal of 1,000.

Signers commenting on the petition page’s discussion section left comments such as “I can’t believe this is being considered!” and “Gov. Cuomo, get going on the real issues.”

Contact reporter Kaley Lynch at 439-9222, ext. 6245, or tweet to @Lynchie17.

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