why do prisoners get more funding than school kids?

October 29, 2018
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The United States is spending more money on its prisoners than its school students, and the biggest culprits are New York and California, the “sanctuary states” on either coast. Yikes.

The Daily Mail reported that “15 states spend at least $27,000 more per prisoner than they do per student,” with California spending $64,642 per inmate compared to the measly $11,495 spent per child, amounting to the largest spending gap at $53,146. New York has the second-largest gap at $46,989 but also spends the most out of the 15 states reported with $22,366 per student, compared to the $69,355 per inmate.

The analysis, done by personal finance site GoBankingRates, builds on the school-to-prison pipeline narrative that prison abolitionists have shared for years. Even with a steady fall in crime rates, the US incarceration rate has tripled in the past three decades due to multiple factors such as the growth of the prison industrial complex that has inmates working for next to nothing within a system that has been widely regarded as modern-day slavery.

One can only imagine the amount of money being made through the prisoner industrial complex for prisoners in New York and California to be receiving individual funding larger than the annual salaries of teachers in US states that pay them the least. This is not to say that prisoners should be subjected to inhumane conditions. Prisoners are entitled to fairness as they journey through the justice system. Poor prisoners don’t deserve to be locked up for not affording bail: one more way that Black and Brown bodies find their way into the prison system unjustly.

American teachers are out here working 2-3 jobs just to survive while taking on the responsibility of “supervising an average of 20.8 students, while prison guards oversee an average of 5.3 prisoners.” Prison guards supervise prisoners on a 24-hour basis but these numbers tell a bigger story of the American education system serving as collateral damage for corporate interests.  If it’s not school children falling victim to the growing gun-violence pandemic in schools, it’s police forces in cities like Chicago getting $95 million training academies in the same city where, in 2013, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and officials closed 49 elementary schools and 1 high school, with plans of further closures in the pipeline.

Teachers should not have to strike for fair wages and put their children on food stamps while billions of dollars are funneled in and out of prisons. When corporate interests take over the agenda, then American schools and prisons are run like businesses: a dangerous precedent that places the bottom line above children and prisoners.

An educated populace is a threat to a status quo that consolidates its power through fear-mongering and ideologies founded on ignorance and bigotry. An incarcerated populace is more money in the bank for the 1%. The money says it all.


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