Excerpt: Education advocates want state-funded college courses - yanked more than a decade ago - restored for prison inmates.
Despite gaping holes in the state budget, educators argue the classes save money by turning prisoners into taxpaying workers upon release.
"We want to send them home better than they come in," said state Correctional Services Commissioner Brian Fischer.
The state's Tuition Assistance Program used to be available to qualified prisoners - about 1% of recipients, or 3,000 students, were inmates in 1994.
In 1995, then-Gov. George Pataki banned inmates from getting tuition money, and the number who earned degrees plummeted from 864 in 1994 to 38 in 1996.
Prisoners have gotten degrees since then using private money. In 2007, 181 prisoners got degrees using mostly private funding.
The cost of a year in prison is about $40,000, and an average TAP grant is $4,000.
Advocates argue providing education funds saves money in the long run:...