WRGB Search Results

The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Daughter of murdered father questions prisoner college degrees

FT. PLAIN -- Shannon Williams was just 20 years-old when her father, David, was murdered over $200. Now, 14 years later, the two men convicted of killer her dad could be eligible for a free college degree in prison.

David Hall was shot in the face while working at a Utica bar in 1999. The two men convicted were just 17 years-old, said Williams. To hear that they one day could receive a free college education, paid for by Williams and here family, upsets her.

"I don't think that is fair." Williams said.

Williams' family still lives in the Utica area, including her younger sister who has over $60,000 of student loan debt even though she can not find a job.

Governor Cuomo unveiled his plan, to have taxpayers foot the bill for eligible prisoners, last week. He did not give an exact cost to taxpayers or outline the criteria the inmates must meet.

The state will be seeking RFP's from private colleges this month.

According to a study by Mr. Cuomo's office the numbers show inmates who receive a college degree, while in prison, tend to stay out of trouble. Based on a similar program by Bard College, who offers prisoners the opportunity to get college degrees thanks to private donations, just 4% go back in prison after they leave. Cuomo's office says state wide the recidivism rate is 40%.

The state pays about $60,000 a year, per inmate, the Governor said.

Calling herself an accepting person, Williams hopes the bill fails on its merit. However, she would be willing to support an amendment to the bill that forced prisoners to pay back the money once they leave prison.