Spending on Prisons Has Grown 3X Faster Than Spending on Schools

MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS: The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and more than 20 percent of its inmates. Today, the Department of Education released a policy briefing contrasting the change in state and local spending on education and incarceration. Between 1979-80 and 2012-13, public K-12 spending increased 107 percent while state and local spending on incarceration increased by 324 percent to $71 billion.

“We can no longer afford this failure to invest in opportunity, only to lock up people once they’ve dropped out of school and turned to crime,” Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama, said in a press release. “These misguided priorities make us less safe and betray our values, and it is time we came together as a country to invest in our people and their capacity to contribute to society.”

The federal government has also been paying attention to education within prison walls. Last month it announced 67 colleges and universities will participate in its Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, which allows qualified inmates to access Pell grants.

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