Over Three Decades, State Prison Spending Growth Far Outpaced Schools


If state budget trends reflect policy priorities, the U.S. values prisoners over children, says a study reported by the Huffington Post. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the growth of state spending on prisons has far outpaced the growth of spending on education. After adjusting for inflation, spending on prison-related expenses rose over 140 percent between 1986 and 2013. State spending on K-12 education increased only 69 percent, while higher education saw an increase of less than six percent.

Michael Mitchell, a co-author of the report, suggested that education spending could help lower incarceration rates. “When you look at prisoners, people who get sent to prison and their educational levels, [the levels are] typically much lower than individuals who are not sent to prison,” he said. “Being a high school dropout dramatically increases your likelihood of being sent to prison.” The report suggests that states’ spending practices are ultimately harming their economies, while not making the states especially safer. The authors conclude that if “states were still spending the same amount on corrections as they did in the mid-1980s, adjusted for inflation, they would have about $28 billion more available each year for education and other productive investments.”

Comments are closed.