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LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- Utah State University says it no longer can afford to offer the state's only program that grants bachelor's and master's degrees to prison inmates.
"We just don't have the money," said Kathleen Robinson, program administrator. "We really haven't for a while now. We've been limping along on a budget without new money for several years."
The program, which will stop in August, offers classes online or over satellite TV. It has a $600,000 deficit, said Vince Lafferty, director of Utah State's distance-education centers.
The school pays for books and technology upgrades. Inmates are charged $100 per semester no matter how many classes they take. There now are 166 people in the program.
The 20-year-old program has awarded 91 college degrees to inmates, Robinson said.
"I'm not aware of any of our inmate grads going back to prison. Other states have the same track record with similar programs. ... The public doesn't understand that," Lafferty said.
Snow College, Dixie College and Salt Lake Community College offer associate degrees to inmates.
Robinson said she and other members of a task force on inmate education were told "it will never be a priority with the Legislature."
President Stan Albrecht has talked to state officials about getting money, Utah State spokesman John DeVilbiss said
Nelda Colwell of Brigham City, the mother of an inmate working toward a bachelor's degree, has been writing to Gov. Jon Huntsman's office. "Many still argue that prison inmates do not deserve to attend college while incarcerated," she wrote. "However, considering the reported $23,000 it costs the taxpayer per inmate per year, it is obvious that the money is well spent in education."
Lafferty said most inmate diplomas are in business, psychology and accounting.
Information from: Standard-Examiner
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)