A new study by the U.S. Department of Education finds that state and local expenditures on prisons and other correctional facilities has grown by triple the rate as expenditures on public K-12 education over the past 30 years.
The analysis found that even accounting for differences in population, per capita spending on prisons increased by more than double the rate of increase for public education in 23 of the 50 states. In seven states – Idaho, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Virginia – per capita spending increases on prisons were five times the increases for education.
The report also finds that since 1990, state and local spending on higher education has been largely flat while spending on corrections has increased 89 percent.
“Budgets reflect our values, and the trends revealed in this analysis are a reflection of our nation’s priorities that should be revisited,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “For far too long, systems in this country have continued to perpetuate inequity. We must choose to make more investments in our children’s future. We need to invest more in prevention than in punishment, to invest more in schools, not prisons.”
The full report, State and Local Expenditures on Corrections and Education, may be downloaded by clicking here.