St. Lawrence County legislators want Gov. Cuomo to invest in local schools, not college for prisoners
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 5:37 pm

By JIMMY LAWTON

CANTON -- The St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators wants Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to invest in local schools and withdraw his proposal to fund college classes for state prisoners.

The board passed a resolution Monday calling on state representatives to reject the governor’s plan, which would provide criminals with taxpayer-funded college tuition at a cost of $5,000 per inmate. That’s a benefit legislators said is unavailable “to the children of law-abiding citizens who will finance proposal.”

“The purpose of incarceration is to punish those who have engaged in behavior that is illegal or crimes considered severely antisocial, including murder, rape, they and distribution of narcotics, or variety of other crimes,” the resolution says.

The resolution also says any funds planned for educating inmates should instead be allocated to school districts “in order to provide our young people with the tools and skills they need to be productive members of society.”

“An investment in our youth will have a greater positive impact on the lives of our next generation of citizens, and therefore will over the long term be far more effective as a crime deterrent than the current proposal,” the resolution says.

Board chairman Jonathan Putney, a Waddington Democrat, proposed the resolution. Last week he said that while he believes the governor’s heart was in the right place, tax dollars should be spent on struggling school districts, not criminals.

“While it may have been a well-intended proposal to save money by reducing the rate of re-incarceration, many people in the North Country, including myself see things differently. Many North Country residents would prefer to see those funds allocated to our local school systems which have been operating on significantly lower levels of state aid,” he said. “The reality is that our resources are scarce and an investment in our youth will be far more effective and appropriate.”

The resolution will be forwarded the North Country’s state representatives.