Prison budget destroying California

Prison budget destroying CA Chelsea Cobbs

Staff Writer

After winning approval by the state legislature, California Governor Jerry Brown is writing a $602 million check for reconstructing jails in 11 counties across California. This funding comes as county lock-ups are given the responsibility of incarcerating lower-level criminals that were previously up to state prisons to manage.

In the face of the enormous debt we’re in, California is leaving children and schools to fend for themselves while ridiculously large amounts of money are allocated towards county prisons. When the choice comes down to giving more money to state prisoners, or helping state citizens, the choice should be obvious.

California’s children, schools, and teachers are dealing with a sufficient amount of budget cuts, leaving them with decrepit books and extremely limited school supplies. They have been denied over $20 million even before mid-year and transportation cuts.

State legislators should not be able to sleep in the wake of this decision, knowing schools across the counties are being hit with dire budget cuts and financial issues. What are we supposed to think when prisons have become a higher priority than schools?

Children are being stuffed into classrooms and school buses daily. Some without books, some without transportation, and many without an after school activity to turn to – a recipe for even more future prisoners.

In hard economic times, why is prison such a high concern? The highest priority should be educating the state’s children to give them a better future, yet this state’s budget decision leaves our schools as little better than the prisons their students seem increasingly destined for.

This budget speaks to the worst qualities about our dysfunctional state. California infamously spends more on prisoners than students, and yet sees no results in reducing crime. At this point, it might just be better to release lower-level criminals onto the streets – if prisons won’t reduce crime anyway, they might as well use the money to educate children and prevent future prisoners from brewing in our schools.

Californians need to have an adult conversation about the cost of maintaining our ever-growing prison system.

With every day that we discount the education of our children over the cost of maintaining our prisons, we set up a vast majority of our children to fail – and set up California for a vicious cycle of spending even more money on prisons and less on schools. Soon, we’ll just be shipping our children off to prison as soon as they are old enough, and skip school altogether.