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Ontario Co. supervisors discuss inmate college plan

Canandaigua, N.Y. Some Ontario County lawmakers weighed in on Gov. Andrew Cuomos plan to increase college opportunities for prison inmates.

A resolution calling on the New York State Legislature to reject the governors plan was brought to the Ontario County Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday night.

It's an insult that the governor of New York would propose giving tuition to prison inmates, said Steve Barnhoorn, a Richmond Town Council member who spoke out during the public comment portion of the meeting. You have to scratch your head and ask yourself why such a valuable benefit be given to people who break the law.

After a long back-and-forth discussion from both sides of the issue, the board decided to postpone the vote for another three weeks.

Once you strip that down, the bottom line is 95 percent of inmates are going to return to society and right now we're looking at 40 percent recidivism rate, said Charlie Evangelista, an Ontario County supervisor from Geneva. If we don't do anything to reverse that trend, essentially we're going to be wasting people's lives and money.

But other board members, like John Sheppard, Town of Seneca supervisor, dont agree.

I'm against it from my own life experiences," he said. "As a father of four, my constituents, the realization that college is not free. It's not a benefit to be given out least of which to those who least deserve it.

The board plans to vote on the resolution at its March 27 meeting.

Last week, Niagara County Legislature voted in favor of a similar resolution.

 
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