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.