These are the musings, ramblings, rantings and observations of Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy on DWI defense, general criminal defense, philosophy and whatever else tickles his fancy.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The coming prison state
I came across an interesting article in The Champion about the need for parole in our prison systems. Mark H. Allenbaugh and Mark P. Rankin found some numbers in the Bureau of Justice Statistics that made me shake my head (violently).
In 1980, per capita state spending on prisons was $44.51. That number increased to $128.78 in 2000 - an increase of 189%. At the same time, per capital state spending on education in 1980 was $160.72 and increased to $212.23 in 2000 - an increase of only 32%. According to the authors, if those trends continue, in 2010 per capita state spending on prisons will increase to $370.00 while per capita state spending on education will only increase to $242.00.
Texas ranks third in per capita growth in prison spending and 20th in per capita growth in education spending since 1980.
The United States already has the highest incarceration rate in the world (762 per 100,000 residents). The incarceration rate in the Lone Star State has increased from a little over 156 per 100,000 in 1980 to 779 per 100,000 in 2000.
Something is fundamentally wrong when a nation as prosperous as the U.S. spends money on incarcerating our citizens at a faster rate than we spend educating our kids.
As they said in the old Fram filter commercial: You can pay me now (education) or you can pay me later (prison).