Over the past 30 years, California has spent an increasing portion of its budget on prisons and less on the state university systems, reports the Bay Citizen. The state budget has increased from about 3 percent of the state’s general fund in 1980 to 11.2 percent for this fiscal year. Meanwhile, public university funding dropped from 10 percent of the state’s general fund 30 years ago to about 6.6 percent this fiscal year.
A recent report by the Pew Center on the States said spending for corrections nationwide quadrupled over the last two decades, making it the second fastest growing area of state budgets, behind Medicaid. In California, spending for criminal corrections has more than tripled since 1980. The state’s prison population has increased significantly over the last 30 years, largely because the state began imposing determinant sentences, meaning the vast majority of crimes have fixed prison terms. The number of prisoners climbed from about 25,000 in 1980 to about 165,000 in 2010. The state spends about $50,000 per inmate each year.