Northern New York Newspapers
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Fri., Nov. 28
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Spend tax money on students, not inmates

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Jennifer Hansen wrote [Monday] that we in the Northern New York region do not grasp the value of providing an education to those individuals who have violated the law and find themselves in prison.

It might be beneficial to remember that they are in prison because they committed a crime, and most likely a significant crime — hence, they are in prison. Rarely are convicts virginal to crime; they probably committed other crimes but only got caught this time.

We are not shortsighted as she would suggest. We do value our children and endeavor to enhance their education by sacrificing much to accomplish that goal. Ms. Hansen makes the statement that we regularly engage in a statewide debate about smart, efficient spending in public education. I cannot remember those particular situations.

We go to budget meetings, but rarely can I remember a smart, efficient spending program meeting.

Ms. Hansen suggests that educating some inmates may provide a benefit to them and society, and she further suggests that these same people would become taxpaying citizens, thus helping to shoulder the cost of educating our children. I suppose there may be some minor value to that, but that is supposing that employers are looking for educated felons. Ms. Hansen cites the Bard Prison Initiative, stating that only 4 percent of those inmates who participated in higher education continued in a life of crime and were returned to prison.

Using that logic, one would assume that of all who graduate from St. Lawrence University, not just inmates, 4 percent will find their way into prison. Why not spend tax dollars before they enter prison, alleviating 96 percent of the problem?

I think that we should spend more tax dollars on educating our children long before spending it on those who commit crimes. Just imagine how many tax dollars went into erecting signs all over New York advising motorists that there is a text site up ahead. I think that Gov. Cuomo and Ms. Hansen need to rethink their value systems.

Alan Whitcomb


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