Photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor (Getty).
A headline like that really angries up the blood, but apparently it’s true. According to the Los Angeles Times, the cost of imprisoning the state of California’s 130,000 inmates is expected to hit a record high within the next year. At a price tag of $75, 560 per person, that’s literally more than the cost of an annual tuition at Harvard University. $2,000 more, to be more exact.
Harvard Tuition Costs Less Than Being Imprisoned In California
To make matters seem even worse, Governor Jerry Brown’s spending plan for the next fiscal year comes with $11.4 billion in taxpayer dollars to the corrections department attached to it. This is despite 11,500 fewer inmates being housed in the facilities. How? Due to election results from back in November, many lower risk individuals have received early releases. Considering the prison population is on the decline due to these changes, many speculate that (obviously) costs should be decreasing instead of increasing. But according to executive director of the California Budget & Policy Center Chris Hoene, “Now that we’re incarcerating less, we haven’t ramped the system back down.” That may not be a great explanation, but it’s something.
Of course, seeing as how the state of California has been sued in the past for overcrowding of its prisons, the increased budget makes sense on a surface level, at least in terms of keeping both sides happy. But now that the seesaw has tipped back to the “taxpayers are shilling out more money” end, the fact that the well-being of inmates and those who guard them is worth more than tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses at a prestigious University isn’t cutting the mustard.