Albany, N.Y. – On Monday, August 7th, Governor Cuomo and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced that $7.3 million will go toward expanding college education programs in prisons as part of their College-in-Prison Reentry Program. Of the seven colleges that will either begin or expand their programs, one is Buffalo’s own Medaille College.
Medaille College, located off of Parkside Avenue is in Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes 141st Assembly district. The College has been providing higher education in the Albion Correctional Facility with funding from the Sunshine Lady Foundation, a private family foundation funded through the generosity of Doris Buffett, since 2012. There are presently twenty female inmates working toward Associate’s Degrees in Liberal Studies through the program; however, due to the $400,000 in proceeds Medaille is receiving, the program plans to double its enrollment and continue for at least the next five years. Additionally, the funds do not include taxpayer dollars but rather come from financial settlements received after accusing large banks of criminal charges.
It is estimated that across all of New York State, there will be 2,500 new seats in state prisons for inmates to begin a college education. Some of the other schools participating in this program include Cornell University, Mercy College, Bard College, Mohawk Valley Community College, New York University and Jefferson Community College.
The goal of the College-in Prison Reentry Program is to lower recidivism rates with the hopes of working toward a more educated and less crime-ridden New York State. As a present member of NYS’s Assembly committee on Higher Education and a former educator, Assemblymember Peoples-Stokes believes “in the power of education and the benefits to all facets of society when its accessibility is increased.” She says that, “We should focus on rehabilitating and reforming incarcerated individuals into becoming productive members of New York State, and that is best done through education and employment.”