There are two vital issues in California that are inextricably linked – education and incarceration.
Education is one of the most reliable paths out of poverty and deprivation. Those who live within the confines of our overburdened prison system are quite often those deprived of it.
This is what makes it so terribly disturbing when you look at the numbers released in a recent study by California Common Sense. Stephanie Chung of NBC covered the story last week when the report was released:
California is spending 1,370 percent more money on prisons today compared to 1980 levels. NBC Bay Area got the first look at a report from Los Altos-based, non-partisan research group California Common Sense (CACS) published Thursday.
It’s the first time a group has looked at 30 years worth of data and crunched the numbers to show a long-term trend between state spending on prisons and on higher education, according to Director of Research Mike Polyakov.
California spent $592 million on corrections in 1980, Polyakov said. That spending has jumped to $9.2 billion in 2011.
Meanwhile, higher education spending has decreased. Researchers found that there is a trend to pay University of California and California State University faculty less money than in the past.
The disparity is unnerving. Even more so when you start reading through the report. Let’s take a look at the key findings, shall we?
- Corrections’ growing slice of the State budget, High Education’s shrinking slice. As CDCR’s share of the State General Fund budget increased steadily through most of the last three decades, higher education’s share declined consistently.
- Corrections’ first recession era budget cuts in 30 years. Although the Corrections budget survived most previous economic downturns unscathed, since the onset of the most recent economic downturn, expenditure on Corrections has seen a substantial decline.
- Corrections inmate population explosion driving higher costs. Over the last 30 years, the number of people California incarcerates grew more than eight times faster than the general population. Our calculations show that 55% of the increase in the cost of the state prison system between 1980 and 2012 (after adjusting for inflation) can be traced to this rapid growth.
- Annual salary increases for prison guards, stagnant faculty salaries over last decade. Whereas prison guard salaries are subject to periods of sustained salary increases, faculty salaries have seen only weak growth over the years, falling in real terms over the past decade.
- New report examines how prison spending impacts higher ed in California (sentencing.typepad.com)
- California Spending More on Prisons Than Colleges, Report Says (inprisonedwomen.wordpress.com)
- California Spends More on Jails than Higher Education (thinkprogress.org)
- Study Finds California Now Spending More On Prisons Than Colleges (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
- California spending more on prisons than colleges: Report (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- California – Spending More on Prisons Than Higher Education (shepherdspiehole.typepad.com)
- Prison, Drug War Spending Rockets While Higher Education Funding Declines (commondreams.org)
- Prison, Drug War Spending Rockets While Higher Education Funding Declines (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)