Yesterday Dana and Kate wrote about a NYT article on the increase in the prison population in the United States. Naturally, then this Inside Higher Ed piece about how prison spending is also up isn't too surprising. What is interesting is how they compared prison spending to the amount spent on higher education by state. For states like Connecticut, Vermont, Michigan, Delaware and Oregon, the spending is nearly one to one.
Twenty years ago we spent 32 cents on prisons for every dollar we spent on higher ed, today, it's 60 cents. This is due in large part to the crunch on state budgets--the first thing to be trimmed from the budget is usually colleges and universities. The reasoning is that students can pay higher tuition rates to make up the difference, but with prisons, an increased population must be supported by the state.
-- Kay Steiger