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The Sun letter to the editor: Reader responds to The Sun editorial

Editor:
Your editorial challenging the governor’s proposal to offer prison inmates college courses hopefully “ruffled more than a few feathers” among thoughtful readers.

First of all, Cuomo’s idea is not new – at all. Up until the early 1990s (in our area), there were Attica and Collins correctional programs, which were staffed by Buffalo State teachers.

These benefitted prisoner-students who chose the option of higher education courses. Please note that not all prisoners took advantage of these programs, so any assumption that these were “breaking the backs” of taxpayers is a very flawed conclusion.

Although the specifics elude me now, and since you made reference to personal anecdotal evidence to support your opinion, i.e., “I know several smart, schooled individuals who went to prison because they were shrewd enough to think of a great plan that ultimately failed, not because they were stupid and tripped over a felony,” I shall do likewise.

I know of at least three former prison-program faculty who could vouch for the details – and they are still working in local higher education (I can name names).

Allow me to also remind those who found convincing sensibilities in your piece that we often learn media-generated stories about long-term incarcerated who have been wrongly convicted, locked up and miraculously cleared by new evidence, or by exposing wrongdoing of certain authorities.

As long as this phenomenon continues to trample upon the lives of inmates and their families, we must remain open to the mission embedded in the prison system: that being rehabilitation.

Education is rehabilitation. It prepares them for a future outside the prison walls. Education heals minds. It prevents their further judgment errors. Education keeps people out of jail.

Obviously I am one constituent who agrees with Gov. Cuomo’s suggestion and disagrees with State Sen. Grisanti and his merciless petition. If this petition is about taxpayers’ dollars, then consider such to be little more than a “red herring” creating a “boogie man” for the November elections; a captive, defenseless scapegoat, at that.

If Grisanti’s being sincere and can cite data to seemingly support his position, check for unreliable and inaccurate evidence; then please urge Sun readers to vote for someone else.

Edwin Beck
Hamburg
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