Regions

Jails get more public funding than schools in 11 US states

October 11
8:13 PM 2015

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences released a recent report detailing where most of the people's money were being put into, which revealed that 11 of the states in America are spending more on prison institutions than on higher education. 

These states are Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The fact that state spending was prioritized more on jails than on education was alarming for experts, including opinion columnists Bill Ellis, who shared with Times Call how the "school-to-jail" trend among young people are only building better criminals and increasing profits for prison institutions.

He also adds that the US puts more people in jails and keep them in longer than any other country.

Although the report from the AAAS was published not more than a week ago, the news should not have been so shocking since the same findings were also revealed last year by Huffington Post.

The article also claims that funds for education have always been on the decline since 2008, yet it looks like no visible effort has been made to change this ongoing trend.

In an inaugural speech made last January, the state governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, also announced that they would slash $75 million in funding for the state's public universities but added a $5 million budget for a new private prison that even had a notorious local law enforcement sheriff shaking his head in disagreement.

This 2014 report also shows how the nation's prison population has grown sizably in the past 35 years while, but it isn't crime levels that are to be blamed.

The report enumerates four variables to be considered when analyzing incarceration rates: the crime rate, the ratio of arrests to crimes, the share of offenders sent to prison, and the lengths of prison sentences.

Researchers have discovered that the last two mentioned are the biggest contributors to the increase of state incarceration rates for several decades now.

The one solution many experts are offering to this current situation would be the enactment of reforms that target the most prominent drivers of high incarceration rates: the length of prison sentences and the number of people admitted into jails. 

Although it will be years until we see dramatic changes to state spendings, experts are hopeful that awareness, coupled with immediate action, will eventually lead to a refocusing on education as the main priority for every state in the US.

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