In 2010, for instance, the state spent $6 billion on fewer than 30,000 guards and other prison-system employees. A prison guard who started his career at the age of 45 could retire after five years with a pension that very nearly equaled his former salary. The head parole psychiatrist for the California prison system was the state’s highest-paid public employee; in 2010 he’d made $838,706. The same fiscal year that the state spent $6 billion on prisons, it had invested just $4.7 billion in its higher education—that is, 33 campuses with 670,000 students. Over the past 30 years the state’s share of the budget for the University of California has fallen from 30 percent to 11 percent, and it is about to fall a lot more. In 1980 a Cal student paid $776 a year in tuition; in 2011 he pays $13,218.
I wonder how many times we need to see these statistics before we wonder if the education for prisons trade-off was really all that effective. Why do people in California have such an obsession with spending on corrections? Is the link to public safety with increased correctional spending really this strong?
In other news, how long until the University of California is not a state school anymore? With support dropping like that, one wonders . . .