In a country where the right to be free is held to be the gold standard of our great democracy, is it right so many Americans are behind bars? Today we actually imprison a larger percentage of our population than Russia did under Stalin.
It’s not a problem that’s going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s becoming an even larger issue that is now taking funding from other areas of need. The spending for education has become secondary to that of prisons. Many states are now spending larger amounts on prisoners than on pupils, and those that aren’t yet are heading in that direction. The folks over at MotherJones.com have researched this and provided information on each state’s spending trends.
So how bad is it? Some states actually spend 1000 times as much on an incarcerated citizen as on a pupil in their schools. Andrew Black and Virgina Weisz of the Washington Post write:
“While the state government in Virginia spends upward of $70,000 per year to incarcerate each child in a juvenile prison, it contributes only about $3,400 to provide for the education of that same child.” (read full article)
What does it say about a society that treats it’s citizens as prisoners, or a society that treats it’s prisoners better than it’s children?