It reads like a headline from the 19th century: “Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners Could Soon End in New York.” But this headline appeared just two short weeks ago. It remains standard practice in many prisons across the country (in 28 states, to be exact ) for women to be handcuffed while pregnant, during labor, and post-partum. The…

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By Michael Virtanen New York University has enrolled 36 inmates in English classes at Wallkill Correctional Facility in the Hudson Valley. Their first courses are “Literary Analysis and the Politics of Interpretation” and “Critical Perspectives on Justice through Creative Writing.” They take one or the other. Backed by a $500,000 Ford Foundation grant, NYU’s new…

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This past Saturday, 53 inmates at Eastern Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in upstate New York, were awarded college diplomas as part of the Bard Prison Initiative, a program that enables convicted felons to take courses and earn degrees while incarcerated. Among the graduates were newly minted experts in advanced math, literature, and social studies…

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By Christopher Zoukis In a surprise move, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo decided to settle in the solitary confinement practices case of Peoples v. Fischer.  The December 2012 case, brought by New York state inmate Leroy Peoples and litigated by the New York Civil Liberties Union, asserted that New York state prisons’ solitary confinement practices…

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By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy cnn.com

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has put into action a plan to greatly expand college in prison offerings in the state of New York.  This plan will result in one prison in each of New York’s prison regions offering college programs to inmates, in which they could earn either an associates or bachelor’s degree.  While many have applauded Governor Cuomo’s efforts, including the labor-backed Working Families Party, which released a statement from their State Director Bill Lipton asserting, “We applaud the Governor’s bold initiative to combat the high rates of recidivism in New York through the power of education,” others have objected, and publicly so.

Opponents of Governor Cuomo’s prison education plan have included the following:

  • U.S. Representative Christopher Collins (R-Clarence) objected, saying that not only does he oppose the prison education proposal, but that he would go so far as to introduce legislation to bar the federal government from being able to finance any college-in-prison programs.  He said the prison education plan was “an insult to law abiding citizens across our state.”  He continued, “Strangely, many of these same politicians think tax dollars should be spent to give convicted criminals a free college degree.”
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