California Kids: $125,000 to incarcerate, $8,000 to educate.

Where we spend tells a lot about what we value.

California prison spending for juveniles is reportedly over $370 million a year. That works out to anywhere from $125,000 a year to over $200,000, depending on where you get your report. Spending on education hovers just under $8000 per student. Which is 45th lowest in the nation. Even if the estimates on prison spending are way off, that is still an awful multiple: we spend 10 times as much to lock them up as we do to teach them.

What is that overspending buying? Not much. The California prison system is in such bad shape it is in danger of a Federal takeover. The inmates are treated badly, not rehabilitated, and learn the wrong skills, which leads to 75% recitivism rate. A life of crime. California now spends more on prisons than on the entire university system.

Schools themselves are a gateway to prison. Some have their own police. Misbehaviors that used to get a student in trouble have become punishable offenses. Not quite the conditions for success. Schools in poorer communities fare worse. Parents do not have the extra money or time to donate to their schools, depriving their kids even further. The class divide begins early.

This is what we get from feckless politicians that don’t want to appear ‘soft on crime.’

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