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Inmate education costing Texas millions

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POSTED: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 5:44pm

UPDATED: Monday, March 28, 2011 - 9:56am

The Austin newspaper, The American Statesman recently reported as long as inmates repay taxpayers when they get out of prison, they can take college and vocational courses - for free.

That is, at the expense of taxpayers.

The problem is - most of them are not paying up.

The newspaper says since the beginning of the program 10 years ago, Texas has spent nearly $27 million on educating inmates.

They only got back $4.7 million of that.

"I just think it stinks - again, our kids and grandkids have problems trying to go to school and if you make so much money, then they don't qualify.  But yet they can be in jail and get a free education.  No, that's not right," said East Texan Barbara Bratt. 

We also spoke with "Grassroots America: We The People" today to see what their take on this is.

They sent us this statement:

March 23, 2011

First, the issue of programs for prison inmates is emotional and complex. Taxpayers don't want to waste money. They want and deserve safe communities and neighborhoods. They want the bad guys locked up to pay for their crimes, but there is a high cost for inmates who return again and again to the prison system. The state legislature should only fund basic programs which produce lower recidivism rates by producing measurable results.

Windham is a good example of state spending on auto-pilot. A seasoned state senator who has served on the Texas Prison Oversight Committee for 15 years had no idea this ten year program to fund college degrees for inmates even existed. We find that as appalling as the $26.9 million Texas taxpayers have spent on higher education for inmates! Who is minding the store?
[source: http://www.statesman.com/news/texas-politics/texas-spends-millions-on-co... ]

While we agree that there should be basic education and vocational programs for inmates who fit good conduct criteria, we do not agree with a college degree program such as the one at Windham which apparently nobody has been watching. There should be strict measurements in place for any basic education and vocational program to determine whether or not the program is reducing the recidivism rate. Texas taxpayers should not be paying for free college degrees for felons. Period.

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In this article, you stated "they sent us a letter dated March 23, 2011". Who is They? You never stated that. Also who is the Texas state Senator that you referr to? "A seasoned state senator who has served on the Texas Prison Oversight Committee for 15 years had no idea this ten year program to fund college degrees for inmates even existed".The link you supplied stated it is Senate Education Committee Chairman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano. REPUBLICANS GET RID OF THEM

Damn. Now I wish I've committed a crime. I can't afford that bachelor's in BioChem I want.

I've read your comments about global warming/climate change and the unfounded effects of mercury associated with autism. Perhaps you should skip a science degree and go into fiction writing.

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