Helping Prisoners Get College Degrees

Many of you know that I worked weekly with prisoners at a Kansas prison for three years and spent three years monthly ministering at a jail in Kansas City. So I was particularly interested to hear about NY Governor Cuomo's announcement to give inmates the opportunity to earn a college degree. Here are a few responses from Chuck Culhane (pictured below), a man who spent a total of 26 years in prison and earned most of his college credits while incarcerated.
"I wanted to see change in my life," Culhane said. "The punk that had been holding up a gas station wasn't going to cut it."
"You find these kids on the corner dealing drugs. If I offer them a job, $25,000 a year, they'd walk away from that in a minute," Culhane said. "[College] would give them something of a self-esteem and an ability to navigate out here, if nothing else. Job creation is essential."
Culhane said he began writing while on death row, which he credits as the start of his education. He works with a variety of prison rights groups now and often serves as a guest speaker.
I agree with Chuck. I think that a college education has the ability to change a person's life. Helping prisoners get a higher education gives them the opportunity to become a different person and stay out of jail. Even so, the program in New York will cost more dollars in the short term. Yet the long term benefits make sense to me. What do you think?

... click here for more on the proposal and Chuck Culhane's story.


  1. Wow, wouldn't it be great if all prisons recognized the need for change and growth and opportunity? Here in CA we call our prison system the Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation but I don't see much Rehabilitation happening. I have a friend in there serving a long sentence (he gets out in 2025 and was sentenced based on a crime he committed at age 19 - he's 30 now) He wants so badly to take classes but they don't have any to offer.


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