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Higher Education For Texas Inmates Draws Scrutiny

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A row of jail cells sit empty. (credit: AP Photo)

A row of jail cells sit empty. (credit: AP Photo)

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AUSTIN (AP) – Texas lawmakers have questioned higher education for inmates who then do not repay the state.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that some prisoners, over the past decade, have secured college degrees and take vocational courses while behind bars.

The newspaper’s review of state records found that only about 6,600 of the 22,000 freed felon-students have repaid in full, as required. The remaining ex-convicts owe $9.5 million.

Courses for inmates, with good conduct and within seven years of release, are operated by the prison system’s Windham School District, which legislators have threatened to cut from the budget to save money.

House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden of Richardson on Tuesday said he wants the program dropped.

Superintendent Debbie Roberts, of the Windham district, says inmates who participate have a lower recidivism rate.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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