Spending on Prisons and Schools


The Department of Education Policy and Program Studies Division has released a report on State and Local Expenditures on Corrections and Education.

Here are the highlights of the report:

–From 1979–80 to 2012–13, public PK–12 expenditures increased by 107 percent (from $258 to $534 billion),4 while total state and local corrections expenditures increased by 324 percent (from $17 to $71 billion) ― triple the rate of increase in education spending.

–Over the same 33-year period, the percentage increase in state and local corrections expenditures varied considerably across the states, ranging from 149 percent in Massachusetts to 850 percent in Texas. PK–12 expenditure growth rates were considerably lower, but still varied widely across states, ranging from 18 percent in Michigan to 326 percent in Nevada.

–All states had lower expenditure growth rates for PK–12 education than for corrections, and in the majority of the states, the rate of increase for corrections was more than 100 percentage points higher than the rate for education.

–When expenditures were adjusted for population change, the increases in both state and local corrections expenditures and PK–12 education expenditures were smaller. However, even after accounting for changes in population, growth in corrections expenditures outpaced PK–12 spending growth in all but two states.

–In 24 states, the growth rate in per capita corrections spending was more than 100 percentage points higher than the rate for per-pupil PK–12 education spending.

–After adjusting for population change, a few states had similar growth rates for corrections and education spending, and two states actually increased per-pupil expenditures on PK–12 education faster than per capita corrections spending.

–From 1989–90 to 2012–13, 46 states reduced higher education appropriations per full-time equivalent (FTE) student. On average, state and local higher education funding per FTE student fell by 28 percent, while per capita spending on corrections increased by 44 percent.

The most telling graphs and tables from the report are the following:

Report--State, Local Expenditures on Corrections, Education_Page_07 [+]

Report--State, Local Expenditures on Corrections, Education_Page_11 [+]

Report--State, Local Expenditures on Corrections, Education_Page_27 [+] Report--State, Local Expenditures on Corrections, Education_Page_28 [+]

Report--State, Local Expenditures on Corrections, Education_Page_29 [+]

An article by Christopher Ingraham for the Washington Post’s Wonkbook includes the following maps:

WaPo Maps_Page_1 WaPo Maps_Page_2


The complete report is available at: http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/other/expenditures-corrections-education/brief.pdf.

Christopher Ingraham’s complete article is available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/07/07/the-states-that-spend-more-money-on-prisoners-than-college-students/.




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