California Spends FIVE Times more on Prisoners than Students

From Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee: 

The fastest growing segment of the state’s deficit-ridden budget, by far, has been its prison system, reflecting severe overcrowding, generous labor contracts and federal court pressure to reform inmate health care.

“Corrections,” an ironic misnomer, has jumped from less than $5 billion a year to more than $10 billion in the last decade, over twice as fast as school spending, the biggest budget item. It now costs about $45,000 a year to feed, clothe and medicate each of the state’s 170,000-plus inmates, or roughly five times what taxpayers spend on a typical public school student. And that doesn’t count what it costs to supervise tens of thousands of parolees.

The fact that California spends five times more on inmates than public school students is appalling! I do not have a clue why this is the case, or how it is in other states, but it seems that our “corrections” system is VERY broken. This enormous expense in one reason for California’s budget woes.


64 Responses to “California Spends FIVE Times more on Prisoners than Students”

  1. 1 Sherri Brown Econ t/th January 30, 2009 at 5:48 PM

    this is outrageous why would prisoners get more money than students for education!!! school is what helps people to advance their lives by having the knowledge to succed in iife. in my opoinion is that prisoner put themselves in jail and do not deserve any money at all! the kids that are in school are the ones that deserve the knowledge to learn and without funding school can not offer what they could. education is what helps you succed in life

  2. 2 O'King Kohl January 30, 2009 at 6:14 PM

    I also agree that it is ridiculous for prisons to get more money and support than the school systems that really need the money more right now. The money should be going toward the kids who go to school to help give them better education rather than to prisoners. However, I do agree with Tyler’s proposal in making programs for to help lower the budget. Overall the schools should have more of the money than prisons because majority of the prisoners put them selves there while the students are the countries future.

  3. 3 Lucy Hwang January 30, 2009 at 11:37 PM

    That’s just wrong and pathetic. I can see why California got “C” last year for education. According to education week, Quality Counts 2008, California got the below average state score every appraisal standards except one item, standards, assessments, and accountability. Especially for school finance, California got D+. The funny thing is the equity is 87 (the average state score is 84.9) while the spending is 51.7 (the average state score is 70.3) I couldn’t believe this results at that time, but now I see. We really need to change this because education is a far sighted national policy and our future.

  4. 4 Tanisha Econ101/Tuesdays January 31, 2009 at 1:05 PM

    This is just crazy! My first thought was that more money needs to be spent on education as opposed to prisoners. Then I began to look at this situation from different aspects. One aspect I looked at was…while the prisoner put himself/herself in the situation, the worst should already be expected and in most cases is well deserved. However, prisoners are people too, and require clothes, food and healthcare. While they do not need the “top of the line” the bare minimum will suit them just fine. On the other hand, students, like myself should come before prisoners in the aspect of money. We work hard in school so that we may succeed in life one day, but when there are no funds because they are being spent on prisoners for instance, a problem arises. I came to the conclusion that there should be a set amount, or REAL budget on what will be spent on prisoners and students, even healthcare for that matter. This may enable stricter quidelines as to who receives money, but no more and no less will be spent on that certain “project.” So if the prisoners run out of money in any given year they will be SOL until the next year. If the students run out of money, then programs will be cut, oh wait, isn’t that happening now! WE NEED A WHOLE NEW SYSTEM…

  5. 5 BeuWolf January 31, 2009 at 10:57 PM

    Wow, is all I gotta say. It totally doesn’t make any sense, but, yet, makes since why California is going bankrupt. Why give the prison system 5times more money to baby prisoners hand and foot for breaking whatever laws they’ve been charged with, while the innocent is paying the bill for doing nothing wrong? I do agree that they need to release the low level prisoners to get proper treatment of drugs and alcohol problems. So in that case they have more room for more serious offenders and make use of the rehabilitated to help others. No wonder why schools are closing up. Why try and make it in life where you can break the law, and get first class treatment; fed, clothed, medical treatment. Sounds like a great place to be.

  6. 6 Annie February 1, 2009 at 9:54 AM

    Prisoners are not “babied.” The high cost is associated with the cost of security — you know, special facilities, prison guards, administration, etc. The problem will not be resolved by ignorance of the situation or with emotional outbursts. We as a nation can’t just throw people in a dungeon and throw in scraps of bread and water. It’s one thing to hate what many of these people have done, but as a democratic nation supposedly serving as a role model for the world, we can’t act as barbarians.

    I always get irritated with bloggers who rant and rave while being ignorant of the issues they are addressing, and, in short, not doing a thing to help resolve the situation. If we put more money into schools, then there wouldn’t BE so many in jail. And if we provided treatment for druggies (who for the most part only harm themselves) instead of throwing them in prison, there wouldn’t be as big of a problem. These sort of problems require more than just whining on a blog. Why don’t ya get out there and study the issue so you can get a better grasp on the subject, then go out and do something productive?

  7. 7 kit t kat February 3, 2009 at 12:04 PM

    It may seem appaling America is spending more on prisons than school, but is it neccessary. Prisoners are mostly bader and they don’t make alot of money locked up. How can they help pay to be in prison. Students have a better means of helping their education. They can make more money free. Maybe if the reform system worked better there will be more imates staying out of trouble and working, thus less money will be needed to run prison. They imates that have their head on their shoudlers can help the economy by getting a good education and contributing to society by being useful. Therefore since more people start going to school, America will see how education is booming and the need to improve it will rise.

  8. 8 Andrew F February 3, 2009 at 2:41 PM

    Students may have chances to pay for college, but schools are falling lower and lower in test scores by the year. If we don’t stop this trend, then even more people might possibly end up in similar situations. Fixing our schooling problem first should be our number one priority, and not just by throwing money at the problem. Some teachers get tenure and then give horrible teaching performance afterwards because of how safe they are once they are tenured.

  9. 9 Michael Huddleston February 3, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    I am in agreement with most of the above comments. I will only had that criminals tend to choose prison over “supporting” and “participating” in their communities, becuase they don’t have to do anything but give up their freedoms to be fed, clothed, roof over head, and do (somewhat) as they please. Where as our students are in a position to be active members in their community and economy, so why not give them the best education we possibly can? Why should the tax payers pay more to babysit adults who don’t want to be responsible and are less willing to reform? Why not spend our extra resources teaching our youth, encouraging our youth, and showing them how they can “appropriately” better their future.

  10. 10 quiche February 4, 2009 at 2:02 AM

    This is also one of the reasons why our economy is going bad because all our tax money is going to prison.It is very unfair how the government takes our money and uses it for prison more than education. We shouldn’t be responsible of the crimes the prisoners have done. Shouldn’t it have been going somewhere more useful to our economy like education and health services or helping the poor. Well this is a new year and we have a new president and he is doing what he can to better improve our education like in one of the articles below say he is spending more than Bush spent on our education. So how does the government expect us to better our future and for our kids and education if our money is going somewhere not beneficial to us.

  11. 11 Rafael Barrera February 4, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    Just put the prisoners that murdered and have kept on coming back over and over again on an Island and leave them there. No, really I think thats a shame that we spend five times more money on prisons than on schools but I think spending more money on schools other than beautification or specialization classes will benefit the students any. Kids do not want to learn because they have to many distractions like video games and cell phones ect. I’m not putting down these gadgets because they are helpful but maybe they can spend there money on pc learning programs, something that kids would enjoy. As for criminals, I think most of them knew what they did when they did it and if they can’t come into society and lie a normal life than shoot them. they are a detriment to the society and the economy. Same goes for me and anybody.

  12. 12 Samantha Arnold February 4, 2009 at 6:10 PM

    Shouldnt we be spending more money on the students than on prioners. Hasnt it been proven that kids that have been more educated and get more involved are less likely to become a criminal. I understand that being the united states we are not cruel and we do have standards for what prisons should look like, and how the prisoners get treated but i do not think we need to spend 5 times more money on them than students. Maybe if we put some of that money towards the education stystem we would not be ranked 40th in the country.

  13. 13 NVC Storm February 4, 2009 at 7:39 PM

    The youth of today is our future. Today’s youth should be getting all the money because a well educated youth will result in a better society . Kids getting their education should be our first priority in this country because before you know it they will be calling the shots. There is no way that prisoners should get 5 times more money then our kids get for education. This is another reason on how our economy got to be so bad, tax money going to prison but not to our youth and teaching them they can make a great life.

  14. 14 samandrews February 4, 2009 at 11:05 PM

    I agree with Samantha Arnold. my first thought was that the more education children have, the less need they’ll find to be criminals.
    I understand that crime rates rise when people don’t have jobs and are desperate for money, so we should buckle up and get ready for the rates to skyrocket with the way jobs are being lost left and right!
    The more funds we put into education, whether it’s able to generate jobs or not, it will faorce us to strive harder to LOOK for jobs, or even become innovative and CREATE more jobs. This is common knowledge, education is a powerful thing.

  15. 15 Khaled Aboudamous February 4, 2009 at 11:20 PM

    And we ask ourselves…what was going on the past eight years. Not only are we spending the Nations budget on things that qualify as unworthy, but now i read this and we are spending more money on prisoners than students! You have to be kidding me! This Nation has a lot of work before it that needs to be completed.

  16. 16 Rachel Sturm February 5, 2009 at 8:27 AM

    With California spending this much upon Inmates, it seems shameful to be a Californian. Does California really place more upon criminals then students…the future of our state? Criminals, while i think that is it incouraging that we feel that we can “change them” so to speak, have made incredibly wrong choices in their lives. But students, who want to learn and have done nothing wrong get the short end of the stick! Are we really a country that rewards misconduct, and ignors our future? I’d like to think not, but if California really spends more on our correctional facilites then our public schools, then the government should require some common sense and fix things to how they should really be.

  17. 17 Garrett February 5, 2009 at 8:27 AM

    I think that this needs o change and need to change as soon as possible because we do not need to be spending more money on inmates then we should be paying for education. Giving a child education is alot more important then making sure a man who had killed his family can stay warm and get whatever he wants in jail. We need to take some of that money out of the jails or just put money into the jails for safty and secreity not buying the inmates new clothes and beds.

  18. 18 Gabriela Corona February 5, 2009 at 11:49 PM

    This is illogical, how can it be possible that our tax money is going towards criminals rather than students? Like everyone says, the children are our future, therefore we have to provide them with a high quality education so they will have the knowledge to improve this country…this world. There was an article last week where it talked about Obama dedicated a significant amount of money to public schools. I have faith that Obama will make the difference that we are all waiting for, to improve the conditions in this country.

  19. 19 woltmon February 9, 2009 at 9:00 PM

    Wow I cant believe that prisoners are getting a better budget then student. California really needs to take a se cond look at where they are spending there hard earned dollars. I personally would rather fund children, then criminals. WOW

  20. 20 Andrew Curry February 9, 2009 at 9:20 PM

    I too like many students that read this think that it is ridiculous! As our inmate numbers continue to rise has anyone stopped to think that if our children were getting a better education that they would be far less likely to go to prison. NO of course not! the system would rather spend our tax dollars giving the prisoners the Medication that they need, yea im sure they really need all that prozac and other anti-depressants that they get. theyre in prison! they are supossed to be depresssed. its not supossed to be all happy. California needs to rethink where thye are spending their money.

  21. 21 Ricardo Olmos February 10, 2009 at 10:08 AM

    It is rediculous to think that taxes pay more for incarcerated prisoners than for the average student. Why should fellons get more attention and care when they commited crimes. What are we to do with so many crimminals? Why not put them in a educational corrections facility that will keep them busy. They can do community service like help construct new schools and hospitals. Why dont we just use their backs to build a better education system. Californias budget needs to be evaluated carefully to consider the childrens future not inmates well-being. Inmates expences shouldnt exceed more than 20k year compared to the reported 45k in the article above. There are many peple in California that make less year as they pay taxes and earn an honest living. The new president must step in and regulate the money that is being mis-spent.

  22. 22 SMCecon February 10, 2009 at 7:49 PM

    If the money that is being used towards education is more efficient than the money that is being spent on the prison system than it makes sense that California is spending less on prisoners. At this point it is important not to condemn the amount the state is spending but rather condemn the efficiency. I am by no means stating that California spends enough on education or even that the money that is being spent on education is being used efficiently, I am simply stating that it is an error to judge and compare the two based solely on the numbers.
    This brings me to my next point…How efficiently is the state of California spending its education and prison money? Maybe the state government should spend more time evaluating how far its money is going instead of trying to solve the problem by pumping more money into the system.
    I do agree that our corrections system may be broken but identifying money as the sole issue here is not appropriate. Why should money be taken from the prisons and shuffled over to schools as many responses have suggested? That does not seem to be the most efficient allocation of the states scarce financial resources. Perhaps the state can reduce the subsidies given to farmers since many farmers are at an internationally comparative disadvantage and give it to the schools.

  23. 23 Audrey Hepburn February 18, 2009 at 9:37 PM

    I think this is unbelievable. How could the state spend more money on inmates instead of schools and education. Prisons may not be in great shape but our tax dollars should got to the school system before it goes to prisons. $45,000 to spend a year on inmates is way too high. The state should not spend more than $30,000 a year on inmates. I am sure that extra $15,000 a year will really help many schools. Then schools will not have to cut programs that will educate students. With it getting harder and more expensive to get into colleges, students need to be prepared for their future by being well educated. The education system is more important than the well beings of inmates. The state needs to reconsider where they are putting our tax dollars.

  24. 24 NicoleMB March 2, 2009 at 12:28 PM

    Obviously as a student in California this is very discouraging. A point that I’d like to focus on is the inmate health care system, particularly considering how much we have to put out for health coverage, if that option is even available for most of us. One of my professors once said that he believes some inmates commit crimes for a sentence specifically for the purpose of utilizing that health care system as they may be in need of a certain surgery or something else they can’t afford. I heard that even sex change operations are completely covered for inmates. Back to the point – I find this a little bit ridiculous because we’re struggling students, right? But we’re supposed to be the future. How about putting a little bit more into the future, California ?

  25. 25 Nancy Moussa March 4, 2009 at 2:29 PM

    This is crazy! Prisioners do not deserve more money then students. Students are our future, while prisioners are just wasting space in nice and clean facility. Prisons are in much better shape then most schools are. I never even thought of this before. The sad thing is that we can’t decide where our money is going. But we all know it is going to the wrong places. Something needs to be done about this, it is not right.

  26. 26 Claudio Ramirez March 18, 2009 at 6:00 PM

    This is just down right sad! I dont know how the prison systems are in different states but it seems that California is more interested in keeping prisoners in a clean enviroment then it is in keeping schools clean and students in them. At the same time though, it should be said that it would cost even more to keep criminals on the street, and at this point it seems like a lose lose situation which i think is ridiculous.

  27. 27 Gilberto Vazquez March 18, 2009 at 11:55 PM

    maybe i should go to jail so the state can spend more money then come out a rehabilitated man and get many benefits out of it!this whole thing is absolutely crazy…i guess prisoners r high maintenance and need all this things like food and clothes hahaha

  28. 28 quique March 19, 2009 at 10:55 PM

    This is astonishing!!! why are we doing this? peole thta are in jail have lost their chance to thrive in this country and who is getting blamed for it? our youth. it isn fair that they are being roobed of an education becasue some guy is in jail getting a free ride. even though it isn t nice.

  29. 29 Kelli C April 21, 2009 at 3:18 PM

    It is sad to see that we are spending so much more money on prisons than on schools. But its not like we are purposefully spening 5 times more on prisons than we are on education, it is just what is necessary. I do believe that this system does need to be revised so that we can eventually be spending more on schools, but for right now, we just need to do the best we can to make sure that our youth are receiving the education they can while at the same time keeping our streets safe. It is a quick fix thinking that by just sending low intensity inmates to treatment centers will help lower the costs of prisons. It may in the short run, but in the long run it will also be more of an incentive for low intensity inmates such as drug dealers and drunk drivers as the article mentions, to continue going against the law. Once low intensity criminals know they will get away will their crimes by just going to therapy sessions instead of jail, their is no doubt that there will be more “low intensity” criminals on the streets than their were before. And low intensity crimes will only lead to worse, more violent crimes. I do believe that we need to focus on our education system and somehow work out a system to lower the amount of money needed to be spent on prisons, but we can’t be stupid about it. Our safety is most important.

  30. 30 Emily Bonzi May 9, 2009 at 2:53 PM

    The money that is invested into prisons and the inmates would be much better served if it was spent on preventative meausures versus correctional. Schools and school programs are a wonderful way to do this. Our government seems to think short term far too often and fails to see the big picture. Spending extra money on programs that would promote safe and friendly communities would prevent inmates from being created in the long run.

  31. 31 Nirbhik Trehan May 13, 2009 at 10:58 PM

    i think it a waste of money if it is spent on prisoners because they will not learn anything and will end even worse criminals. instead if US government spends their money on students they can prevent new criminals from being born as majority of criminals are uneducated and job less which leads then to perform the act of crime. So i fell spending on students is a better option as prevention is better than cure.

  32. 32 Casey Kingdon May 14, 2009 at 4:35 PM

    I think this makes sense, although it is not what the public wants to hear. But i think comparing the two is ridiculous because it is not the same thing. If more spending was going toward educating inmates rather than students would be ridiculous, but we are talking room and board and food. If California spent less on inmates, it would be inhumane to feed them bread crusts and let them sleep on the floor. There are also people who are innocent in these prisons remember, would it be fair to treat them so poorly. Anyone ever see the movie “Felon?”

  33. 33 Kevin Clark St marys Macro mwf May 14, 2009 at 8:09 PM

    I for one am glad they spend far more money on the frightening criminals then they do the average students. I would much rather know that i am safe because they are spending enough amount of money on security in jails and prisons, as well as enough medical staff necessary to prevent any unforeseen deaths to avoid tragic uprising from fellow inmates. Whatever amount of money this costs within legitamate reason is good enough for me. And right now the price they are paying is good enough for me.

  34. 34 B's May 15, 2009 at 9:07 AM

    I know that they need to spend money on prisoners because they are citizens just like the rest of us however this money is going in the wrong places. If we were to focus our money on students then maybe we could find a program to keep people out of prison. If they aren’t trying to do this then we will just continue to have more prisoners because students will continue to get in trouble and head down the wrong road because they are being ignored. So we need to focus our attention on the students in hope that they wont end up in prison and we wont have to waste money on the jail system.

  35. 35 Walter Munill May 17, 2009 at 2:17 PM

    This is ridiculous to hear. Why is it that people who have committed crimes get a nice safe place to stay and eat, and students in public schools are forced to buy all their own supplies and learn in overcrowded classrooms. There are numerous cases in which people who live on the streets commit crimes solely so that they can go to jail because it is a better way of life. The prison system needs to figure it out because I don’t think that prison should every be an easier life no matter how bad you have in the real world.

  36. 36 T May 25, 2009 at 10:33 PM

    Half of the prisons inmates probably wouldn’t be in prison if they had a better education and more prevention programs. Its time to start thinking about how to help people and not how to punish them.

  37. 37 Alex Bice May 29, 2009 at 2:54 AM

    Annie is right. We all need to look critically at this situation rather than just reacting emotionally. Try taking a wider view. This isn’t about students versus prisoners. Has anyone heard of the prison-industrial complex? California spends so much on prisons because private corporations (with a lot of money = lobbying power) contract with the prisons and profit hugely off of prisoner labor (further increasing the corporations’ lobbying power). You’d be surprised at the extent to which prisons double as factories. Minimum wage laws don’t apply to wards of the state, so the prison corporations get the privilege of exploiting their right-less laborers at 50 cents an hour. The saddest part of all is that the vast majority of prisoners are incarcerated for drug offenses, not violent crimes. They didn’t put themselves in jail; cops put them in jail, the courts put them in jail, the state put them in jail, and ultimately, the private interests that funded the campaigns to criminalize drugs… put them in jail. Addiction to any drug, whether it’s alcohol or crack, is a disease, not a crime, and should be treated as such. Treating addicts as though they are animals and locking them up in cages does not make us any safer. Most people who have turned to drugs have done so out of alienation and what they need is to be surrounded and supported and respected by their communities. Locking them away and stripping them of rights and exploiting their labor and re-incarcerating them on minor parole violations – all these things only serve to breed contempt for the system, turning the otherwise harmless down-and-out misfits into pissed off, hardened, desperate people by the time they return to society… if that ever happens. Think about it this way: if we stopped locking people up on bogus charges, we’d be spending a lot less on jails and we could afford to send way more on sending kids to school – even the ones who would have otherwise been in prison. And that’s another thing – Most students, myself included, use drugs. But we don’t go to jail because we have the privilege of affluence. If I were black and homeless on the streets right now, and smoked the same spliff I smoked before I wrote this, I would probably be one of those “prisoners” you say should live on bread and water in a dungeon. But I was able to smoke that spliff and go on being a student because I have a house and a car and a medical marijuana card ($135). I’ve even been pulled over while driving high and been let off with a warning. The same would not have happened if I were black, or otherwise fit the stereotype of a “criminal.” I don’t expect everyone to know the intricacies of the system they live in. I have the privilege of being exposed to these things because I’m a student, and the classes I’ve taken have revealed the prison issue for what it is – another case of Capital, and its shadow, crony-ism, corrupting the state.

  38. 38 Ms. L June 9, 2009 at 4:36 PM

    It is OUTRAGEOUS that inmates receive 5 times what a student receives. I have a very unique position on the situation, being a teacher as well as having family who work in prisons. I agree that we have to think rationally rather than emotionally, but let me give some other facts to consider in this situation. It is not just that inmates are receiving the basic necessities of life, but also given opportunities that many of our children and the working class strive for everyday. They have opportunities to earn high school diplomas, college degrees and PH.D.’s. If they are smart enough to take advantage of these opportunities and succeed, they are given a celebration with a cake and all. They also get a class photo taken, paid for by the state. When was the last time the state bought a graduating HS student a class photo? Congratulations, while I have to work to pay off my own student loans, they get their entire education for FREE. Guess who pays for that…YOU and ME. They also get the BEST healthcare including dental and vision. This includes AIDS treatment and medication (from using DRUGS or from sex) and sex change operation medication, just to name a few. Can you guess who’s paying for that? That’s right, you again! It is disgusting. Do they receive this care when they are paroled? Nope. So, why should they leave? Many of them commit non-violent crimes, so they can go back. It’s a terrible system. Can the incarcerated be rehabilitated? This system is not working and it’s costing us too much money trying. Letting inmates out early is not going to solve the problem either. Our state would save billions if we cut programs in prison. I say it is a much better investment putting art, music, science, social studies, character education, career building, college prep programs back into our schools rather than wasting our money on programs for prisoners. Maybe if we had our priorities straight we could keep our students from committing crimes that would put them into this vicious cycle.
    For those of you who feel “privileged” to have been “exposed” to the prison system in college, think again. There is much more in life to be learned than what you read in books or are told by a professor. If you really want to be “exposed” you need to go find out for yourself. Remember, ignorance is bliss.

  39. 39 David Perez June 16, 2009 at 8:42 PM

    To begin, I speak from a very conservative point of view on this matter. These inmates should be punished according to their crimes. I do not know why we tend to keep these convicts alive when a majority of them are rapists, murderers, perverts, and sadists. Our country has gone too soft over the last few years, and we are paying for it. Shoot, criminals think of prison as a daycare and social center. Why is that? The reason lies that modern punishment is often seen as inhumane and savage. The death penalty is regarded as nothing but a instrument for the notion “an eye for an eye.” Yet, we have nothing to show criminals that if they commit crime they will pay. It is utterly absurd. Prisoners get free meals, medical attention, and all the time in the world to contemplate even more dark deeds. With all the money that we spend in prisons, there needs to be more directed towards education. Through school, the chance of preventing crime through education would fare alot better than dumping money into prisons. The best crime preventive is a educated mind, able to understand right and wrong as well as how the world works.

  40. 40 Amanda Smith July 3, 2009 at 4:17 PM

    We spoke of this quite a bit in my political science class last semester. And my belief and solution is simple: enforce the death penalty. If we allowed the death penalty into California, it would solve the problem of spending and over-crowding. Of course, it should only be enforced on the most vile of crimes. And I know that everyone has their own opinion on what a “vile crime” would be. But I think most will agree with me that child rapists and child murderers and serial killers are pretty vile crimes. So why should we support their survival when our money and cell space could be better spent on other things? It’s harsh, but it would most definitely solve the problem.

  41. 41 mariah john July 4, 2009 at 12:48 AM

    I think that a lot of people don’t realize that the reason we spend more on prison than schools is because we don’t have to provide students with, shelter, food, and medical attention. So for this reason we still need to spend a lot less on prison and i agree with the idea that we should spend more money on prevention program so that it doesn’t happen in the first place. as far as students go, we should be spending more on students to ease the education process but throwing money at the situation does not always fix it. Another thing is that all that money we spend on prison helps keep the bad people that have done the crimes off the streets, i would rather have them in prison than on the streets. also i do not think that the death penalty is wrong but it is not a solution either, the amount of money it would cost on court cases to decide who gets it and not would kind of defeat the purpose of killing criminals to save money, and when any sort of killing is done to save money, there will be problems.i don think we could probably spend less on a lot of things about prison and more on school, but it is not completely wrong for this to be happening, we should look to more ideas, be broad minded and look at the entire situation. and not just do what is easier.

  42. 42 Matthew Davis July 12, 2009 at 8:44 AM

    The corrections system is overcrowded and thus creating excessive cost, and financial burden to the state of California. Corrections facilities are essential to keeping society safe and protected. It is difficult to fathom that California spends five times more on it’s prisoners than it’s students. The state of California’s school system is one of the worst in the nation annually, and will continue to decline as the state budget deficit rises.

    How do we remedy the overcrowding in the corrections facilities? Relocation? Death Penalty? Shorter and more effective corrections sentences? The death penalty is a very controversial issue, but it is difficult to think that the state is spending more money on criminals such as Richard Allen Davis and Scott Petersen than on our youth and future students. Criminals such as the one’s mentioned above are on death row, thus they must be seperated from the other prisoners for saftey reasons. The state is worried about saftey for a group of people which have created such terrible acts of violence and crime. To keep the death row inmates “isolated” increases costs. The corrections system needs to be re-adjusted and compassion for such criminals needs to be re-thought and eliminated.

  43. 43 Kittygirl707 July 13, 2009 at 5:55 PM

    Our society as a whole needs a wake-up call. More and more people are being incarcerated because our educational system is failing. Our parenting system is failing. Children are not being taught strong morals and therefore think that criminal activity is acceptable. It is obvious looking at the numbers of people in California’s jails and prisons. Speak with your children and write letters to your congress(wo)men and let them know that cutting education is NOT OK.

  44. 44 Shannon Lackey July 21, 2009 at 4:12 PM

    This makes me sick I must say! Especially today when I tried to finish my application to college and was informed that due to budget cuts CA is not accepting spring applicants. Prisoners get way to much money for the choices them make. Students get the luxuries of free meals and health care. We have to work had, take loans, prioritize our time and to be model student, and to know that someone who commits a crime gets an average 40,000 spent on them. I cannot even get a scholarship for that much. They should make prisoners pay back that money if they are released. If we have to take out loans to go to school then prisoners should take out loans and repay the state for their actions. It seems like the bad guys are getting a better deal than people who actually want to improve society and their own lives….. GRRRR I am getting angry just reading this. I dont see how our state government can allow this to happen. Since I have been in school, prices have never once stayed the same, all they do is increase, this needs to stop!

  45. 45 E. Speizer August 5, 2009 at 10:49 PM

    If we’re spending so much money on prisoners, something certainly needs to change. Sentences for petty thefts or drug use should be decreased, because these are the majority of prisoners these days. Much of the money saved by cutting many non-dangerous prisoners from jail could be used in educational programs or to heal our deficits.

  46. 46 JoAnn Reynolds September 19, 2009 at 11:42 AM

    So, the media is great at making everyone feel more and more angry at the prisoners and the prison system by comparing the average cost of incarceration to other areas. The truth is California Department of Corrections and “Rehabilitation” has a very limited if no rehabilitation process. It is understandable to take the economic situation and throw fault by comparing two unrelated extremes. Those who think that if money taken away from the prison system would be redirected to our public schools and help our children, raise your hands. The state and federal government has been talking about early release to help the state budget. Is that saved money going to be redirected to education? Will releasing unprepared prisoners save money?

  47. 47 Amanda Chow September 28, 2009 at 7:28 PM

    I am very disappointed to see that California is spending such a great amount on prisoners then our students. I feel that students have a lot more potential for future value then the inmates. We should be concentrating more on the education system rather than the prison institutions. On the one hand I am glad to see that we are taking care of keeping prisoners in jail but also well kept in health. But I think California should revise their system. At least balance the costs of students and prisoners. It is necessary to spend money on imprisoning the inmates, but it is also very important to spend money on our students of the future.

  48. 48 selduhhh October 19, 2009 at 4:50 PM

    Being a student I don’t know if I’m confused, upset, or pissed off about this article. Why should the state be spending 5 times more money on inmates then students. I can’t seem to wrap my head around why our state is doing that. It seems even worse now because the universites are getting cuts, other colleges are having classes cut. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

  49. 49 Matthew Abang October 22, 2009 at 12:47 PM

    This is a tough question that the Governor and the legislature need to answer. Do you release prisoners or keep them in overcrowded jails? I’m not sure what the current crime rate is in this state, but the overcrowding in jails does not help. California is a very populous state and there may not be enough jails to fit prisoners in. There are also a lot of people who need to be going to schools. Those with a good educational background are less likely to commit crimes. The state should find a way to keep education funds without having to release dangerous criminals onto the streets. It is not fair for students to suffer because of people who chose to make bad choices in their lives.

  50. 50 Courtney B October 30, 2009 at 7:35 PM

    This is happening because we have a bunch of stupid idiots running around screwing up peoples lives and committing crimes left and right. We can’t do much about the fact that there are thousands of criminals in California. It is very saddening that the state is spending more on the prison system than on colleges, but it can’t be helped. I suppose we could cut back some money from the prison systems by releasing some criminals, but I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t be the best idea. And in my opinion, the prison system is already too lenient.

  51. 51 Robert Rey, Econ 100 November 3, 2009 at 11:24 AM

    I understand what the article is talking about. Has anyone seen the prison documentary Lockup on MSNBC? There were a couple of episodes on California prisons like San Quentin and Los Angeles County. Inmates get a lot of benefits thanks to state spending. Three meals a day, medical and psychological support, etc. all of that is available to these high populations for free, paid for by the state. For the most part, the show made the systems there comfortable for these people. Public schools are lucky if they get as much these days. Although the overall goal for this support is to help reintegrate small time prisoners back into society, it seems like a risky investment. Isn’t there a chance that they’ll find themselves back into the prison system anyway? Also, there’s the inmates charged with even bigger crimes. Their sentences are even longer to life, they’ll have access to these services indefinitely with little to no benefit to society. Inmates should be forced do more with all the free time and benefits they’re getting to help out the state.

  52. 52 Melissa Alexander November 10, 2009 at 2:01 PM

    Well, let’s just say it takes money to keep those prioners out of our society….so in a sense, I can see the reasoning as to why so much money is spent on prisoners. Do I agree with it….not really, however, I would rather pay to keep those prisons up and running than to have criminals in my neighborhood. I do think that it is sad that we live in a society that spends so little on education…Especially living in such a rich valley like Napa. I have seen beautiful, amazing schools all over the place…and here in the valley our kids are taught in portables….that is what I find insulting.

  53. 53 Nicole Hernandez November 17, 2009 at 8:53 AM

    This is ridiculous to hear that there is more money being spent on prisoners then students. Children are who need better education, and I don’t think that so much money should be spent on prisoners. On the other hand it is true that it is keeping the criminals off the streets, which is a good thing.

  54. 54 Karla Martinez November 23, 2009 at 8:43 AM

    The real problem here is the fact that all this money is being spent but there are no positive results to show for it. If only some of this money were allocated to rehabilitating prisoners that are not locked in for violent crimes, then the number of inmates would decrease. For example drug addicts, if they were given treatment instead of just a punishment, then they would be more likely not to be incarcerated again. In my English 125 class we did a debate on this topic, and there is research that shows that providing education in prisons lowers the rate of prisoners returning to prison, decreases violence among inmates and is not nearly as expensive as providing a regular student with an education. I think education is the key to lowering the amount that California spends in prison if we are willing to make an investment now. If people are not rehabilitated then they will just go back to their old ways once released from prison, only to be incarcerated again.

  55. 55 Genine Lobo November 29, 2009 at 3:53 PM

    I can hardly believe what I just read. It is ridiculous that inmates needs are taken care so much better than students of the public school system. There are obvious solutions to save money such as “shifting some 14,000 low-risk inmates – primarily drug abusers and drunken drivers – from state prisons to local treatment programs” as the article states, so why isn’t this happpening? This would be extremely benficial to our economy as well as to inmates. California must make changes that will take into account the future of our state, the students enrolled in public schools.

  56. 56 Nick Pasquale December 2, 2009 at 4:17 PM

    That is a lot of money being spent on prisoners, that could be going elsewhere to help the economy. But it is reasonable that, that amount of money is being spent on them because the inmates because they have to be taken care of in the prison which can get expensive. They cannot just not take care of them and let them die or go back on the streets and commit more crimes, so the money that they are spending is helping stop violence and crimes. It also shows there are way to many criminals today.

  57. 57 eldiel December 2, 2009 at 5:06 PM

    Well if the prisoners were on the streets, they would wreck havoc on society, and people will question why they are not in jail. If you decide to increase the amount of prisoners getting the death penalty, the entire nation would go crazy. If you decreased spending on prisoners, people would start lawsuits about inhumane living conditions. So either way something bad is going to happen. There is no way to satisfy everyones needs in this situation. I don’t agree with the way things are, but as of right now, what else can be done?

  58. 58 Samantha Fagundes December 4, 2009 at 3:46 PM

    This is crazy that California is spending 5 times on inmates than that of students. Then again, it is the only way prisoners can live in jails instead of being set free. I don’t think that anything else can be done in this situation because you can’t just kill everyone just so that money can be spent on better things in our economy. But I do think that somehow more money should be spent on students who actually want to make a difference.

  59. 59 Angela December 4, 2009 at 6:08 PM

    Unfortunately, California has to spend 5 times more in inmates that what they spend in students because there is no other way to keep dangerous people away from society.

  60. 60 Dwayne December 21, 2009 at 5:48 AM

    The solution here is to rid the 3 strikes law and focus efforts on preventing recidivism. If adequate programs and provisions are implemented to prevent releases from relapsing then public safety can be achieved, however, positively. Furthermore, decriminalization and de-institutionalization is necessary. Laws aimed at petty crimes interferes with the sanctioning of punishment for serious crimes. -thats my opinion…

  61. 61 Daniel James Tyler February 24, 2010 at 9:00 PM

    I am not surprised about 5 times more money being spend on prisons and prisoners. Not One Bit. If you want to blame anyone – blame the lawmakers and the voters. These 2 are the ones that have made “tough on crime” being a household word. California has made so simple to get a felony. 3 strikes is a joke. Locking up people for stealing a pizza? yep. Locking up people for drugs use? yep. Hey, they can lock you up if your dog seriously bites or kills a person. Yep.

    And Crime is now a business. That big money that California spends on “prisoners” is going to the Security Guards Union, and keeping them fat. California deserves what it gets – its their own fault for this mess and they can suffer and cry all they want. Their Lawmakers and their voters created this. Now its time to pay up.


  62. 62 Anthony Azevedo February 25, 2010 at 8:46 PM

    I agree with Daniel James Tyler “blame the lawmakers.” Some crimes people are in jail for are a joke. I do how ever would like propose we send all foreign criminals back to their home country’s and never allow them back in. It should be three strikes and bye bye, you get the boot from the USA. People respond to incentives, if you threaten throw somebody out the door and then do it, then others would think twice before committing a crime. It is privilege to live in this nation, and people should not forget it. It would be cheaper, then leaving the system alone.

  63. 63 Ana Ahnen May 2, 2010 at 5:11 PM

    this is crazy! I don’t know how the government allows this to happen. There are a couple of things that seem to make this matter worse. There are many prisoners who have committed small crimes that do not affect the community as a whole that are in jail. This increases the amount of prisoners and how much we have to pay for them. If these prisoners did not get incarcerated and went on parole instead, there would be a lot of money saved. The other thing that shocks me is this seems to create a cycle. If there is little money being spent on education, it is more likely that there will be less educated people and people with college degrees. People who are under educated tend to commit crimes to survive, therefore getting themselves into jail. Then the cycle starts again. I feel like the government should be able to discover this cycle and do something about it.

  64. 64 Britt Rockseth May 10, 2010 at 7:26 PM

    It is hard to even fathom spending more money on prisoner than on education! Education is what hopefully keeps you out of prision. Going to college and being sucessful enough to support yourself and not fall into crime. This creates a cycle, and out polictican haven not been able to see this. But if takes spending more money to keep our state safe and keeping these criminals behind lock cells is what it takes, I don’t think anyone would want them roaming the streets.

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