Posted on Wednesday, December, 7th, 2016 in Newsroom.
An overemphasis on criminal justice undermines K-12 education
By Lori Bezahler & Allison Brown
Despite the deep political divisions laid bare by the November election, there is an emerging consensus that we are spending too much money to put too many Americans behind bars. Our prison and jail population has tripled to about 2.2 million since 1982. As of 2013, 8 million Americans—one in 40—were behind bars or within the probation and parole system. For black residents of all ages and genders, the rate is one in 18.
The spending extends beyond our prisons. Between 1983 and 2012, we added more than 1.1 million police officers, corrections officers, prosecutors, and other justice-system employees to the public payroll.
“The $3.4 Trillion Mistake,” a recent report from Communities United, Make the Road New York, and Padres y Jóvenes Unidos, details that between 1983 and 2012, our nation spent an extra $3.4 trillion on the justice system as our spending on crime and punishment increased some 229 percent when adjusted for inflation. (These organizations receive funding and support from our respective organizations, the Edward W. Hazen Foundation and the Communities for Just Schools Fund.)