Helping ex-offenders access job training and education services are important factors in ensuring former inmates can successfully readjust to life after prison. According to a report by the Council of State Government’s Justice Center, incarceration triggers a 19 percent decrease in the number of weeks worked annually and a 40 percent reduction in yearly earnings. If ex-offenders leave prison without a way to earn a living upon their return home, then they are less likely to have a successful transition back into society.
Investing in education and job training for ex-offenders does work. A RAND meta-analysis of 58 separate studies discovered that ex-offenders who participated in prison college programs were 43 percent less likely to commit future crime. Take my case as an example. When I was sent to jail as a juvenile, it cost taxpayers more than $35,000 dollars to incarcerate me for seven months. After jail I went on to get my GED and attend college where I received $6,000 dollars in student loans each year. It cost the government less money to invest in my college education than it cost to incarcerate me for less than one year. Once I attained my college education, I was able to return the taxpayer investments in my education. I think it was more cost efficient for the taxpayers to invest in my education instead of my incarceration.
New York spends almost $3 billion dollars on its corrections budget each year and Governor Cuomo’s pilot program would have cost the state $1 million dollars. The New York lawmakers that have attacked Governor Cuomo for using taxpayer dollars to educate prisoners are stuck in the past and impeding progress on an important issue. Those lawmakers and politicians in other states should focus on making our criminal justice system one that truly rehabilitates offenders and incentivizes them to turn their life around after they have served their time.