Wednesday, April 06, 2011

New NAACP Report on Education vs Incarceration

On April 7th the NAACP will release a report, Misplaced Priorities: Under Educate, Over Incarcerate," which states, in summary:

Misplaced Priorities tracks the steady shift of state funds away from education and toward the criminal justice system. For instance, in Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, more than 65 percent of the lowest-performing schools are in neighborhoods with the highest rates of incarceration. Researchers found that over-incarceration most impacts vulnerable, often minority populations, and that it destabilizes communities. The report offers recommendations that would help policymakers downsize prison populations and shift the savings to education budgets.

Some national and local statistics in the report are:
o The United States has five percent of the world’s population but locks up 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.

o During the last two decades, state spending on prisons has grown at six times the rate of spending on higher education (127 percent:21 percent)

o In the city of Philadelphia alone, imprisoning people from 11 neighborhoods cost taxpayers $290 million, while the school district has a $197 million windfall. The state of Pennsylvania spends about 33K per year per prisoner, compared to about 4K per college student annually.

o Of Philadelphia’s 35 lower performing schools, 22 (66%) are clustered in or near areas with the highest incarceration rate. By contrast, of the city’s 28 higher performing schools, 21 (75%) are in areas with the lowest incarceration rates.

The report also has some interesting graphics, juxtaposing school performance and incarceration rates in the city.

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