California is spending 1,370 percent more money on prisons today compared to 1980 levels, says a report by the organization California Common Sense, quoted by NBC Bay Area. The study is 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, says the group’s Mike Polyakov. California spent $592 million on corrections in 1980, compared with $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. “What we found is faculty salaries have decreased about 10 percent since 1990,” Polyakov said. At the same time, prison guard salaries reached a record high in 2006. Even though the officers’ pay has come down in the last few years, researchers found that correctional officers are still making anywhere from 50 to 90 percent above market rate compared to the rest of the country. California Correctional Peace Officers Association spokesperson Ryan Sherman said it's an unfair comparison because the cost of living in California is so high.