NY colleges awarded $7M to offer courses to prisoners

Moving ahead with a plan that has drawn criticism from conservatives, the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is awarding more than $7 million in grants to a variety of colleges around the state to offer courses to prisoners.

The plan, first announced in January last year, is the culmination of an effort that began in 2014 but was attacked by Republicans and others in the state who objected to using public money to help convicted criminals, an idea that was derided as “Attica University.”

On Sunday, Cuomo administration officials sought to mitigate concerns, reiterating that the grant program — which creates classes for about 2,500 inmates — will be financed with money from large bank settlements secured by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., rather than general state funds.

In an interview on Sunday, Mr. Vance said that such classes were part of a “public safety strategy” to reduce recidivism, calling that goal the “first premise of penal law.”

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