North Country Sen. Ritchie launches petition against free college for inmates
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 5:34 pm

Following the governor’s announcement of a plan to offer free college courses to prisoners in state facilities across New York State, Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, is launching a petition against providing free college for inmates.

On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of the “College-in-Prison Reentry Program,” which will provide college-level education and training at 17 New York State prisons — including Gouverneur Correctional facility, with Jefferson Community College providing classes—over the next five years.

The initiative is being funded via large bank settlements secured by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

People who want to sign her petition can do so at

“When we take steps to provide those behind bars with higher educational opportunities at no cost, it sends the wrong message to other, law-abiding individuals who work incredibly hard to pay for college,” Ritchie said in a prepared statement. “New York should be taking steps to make college more affordable for students and families—not focusing on increased efforts to educate inmates. Locally, I would rather see our educators deployed to further address the diverse higher educational needs of our region, including working to serve the growing number of non-traditional students associated with Fort Drum.”

She represents the western half of St. Lawrence County including Ogdensburg, Canton and Gouverneur.