White House Admits Prison spending has grown 3x as fast as Education for Decades

TeleSur | – –

U.S. state and local spending on prisons and jails grew at three times the rate of spending on schools over the last 33 years as the number of people behind bars ballooned under a spate of harsh sentencing laws, a government report released Thursday said.

U.S. Secretary of Education John King said the report’s stark numbers should make state and local governments reevaluate their spending priorities and channel more money toward education.

Between 1979 and 2012, state and local government expenditure grew by 107 percent to US$534 billion from US$258 billion for elementary and secondary education, while corrections spending rose by 324 percent to US$71 billion from US$17 billion, the U.S. Department of Education report found.

In that same period, the population of state and local corrections facilities surged more than fourfold to nearly 2.1 million from around 467,000, more than seven times the growth rate of the U.S. population overall. The prison population shot up following the widespread adoption of mandatory minimum sentence laws in the 1990s.

Seven states—Idaho, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia—each exceeded the average rate, increasing their corrections spending five times as fast as they did their pre-kindergarten to grade 12 education spending.

In just two states—New Hampshire and Massachusetts—growth in corrections expenditure did not surpass P-12 expenditures, even after accounting for changes in population. The report did not analyze different state policies that could explain these exceptions, King said on a conference call.

State and local spending on postsecondary education has remained mostly flat since 1990, the report said. Average state and local per capita spending on corrections increased by 44 percent as higher education funding per full-time equivalent student decreased by 28 percent, it said.

Two-thirds of state prison inmates did not complete high school, the report said.

A 10 percent increase in high school graduation rates would result in a 9 percent decline in criminal arrest rates, King said.

The United States spends about US$80 billion a year on incarceration, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett said on the conference call.

“One in three Americans of working age have a criminal record,” she said. “That creates an often insurmountable barrier to successful reentry.”

Via TeleSur

Related video added by Juan Cole:

The Young Turks: ” How The US Prison System Is BROKEN”

Posted in prison reform | 2 Responses | Print |

2 Responses

  1. Mandatory drug sentencing laws passed in 1978 in Michigan caused state prison overcrowding.

    Those charged with mere possession of a certain amount of narcotics faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no parole.

    Eventually, however, due to the lobbying efforts of groups such as Families Against Mandatory Minimums, those laws were ameliorated to allow for parole after the serving of 20 years imprisonment.

    Criminalizing those drivers who do not have auto insurance resulted in overcrowding in county jails since about 20% of all Michigan drivers and about 60% of all Detroit motorists do not carry car insurance. It is not uncommon to see vehicles on Detroit streets being operated with no license plates. Auto insurance for Detroit residents can cost up to $4,000 per annum, whereas the average home in Detroit sells for about $10,000 in most neighborhoods.

    Making unpaid child support a felony in Michigan resulted in many parents being incarcerated, in addition to civil contempt of court charges to enforce payment

    A large percentage of incarcerated citizens in Michigan are serving time for either drug possession, lack of auto insurance, or defaulted child support obligations.

  2. klywilen

    There is a direct correlation here.

    Is it as obvious to others as it is to me how to reverse spending on prisons?

Comments are closed.