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Misplaced Priorities: Over Incarcerate, Under Educate Excessive Spending on Incarceration Undermines Educational Opportunity and Public Safety in Communities

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2011
62 pages
This report discusses the impact of excessive prison spending has on educational opportunity.
Findings show that over the last two decades, as the criminal justice system came to assume a larger proportion of State discretionary dollars nationwide, State spending on prisons grew at six times the rate of State spending on higher education. In 2009, as the Nation plummeted into the deepest recession in 30 years, funding for K-12 and higher education declined; however, in that same year, 33 States spent a larger proportion of their discretionary dollars on prisons than they had the year before. This report assembled data from leading research organizations and profiled six cities to show how escalating investments in incarceration over the past 30 years have undermined educational opportunities. Findings also show that over- incarceration impacts vulnerable populations and destabilizes communities. This report substantiates existing research on the impact excessive prison spending has on education budgets. This report is geared to public officials, policymakers, and local NAACP units and members, provides a framework to implement a policy agenda that will financially prioritize investments in education, provide equal protection under the law, eliminate sentencing policies responsible for over incarceration, and advance public safety strategies that effectively increase healthy development within communities. A call to action and detailed recommendations are included. 95 notes