Prisons vs. Schools: How Should the Government Spend Our Money?

Story by: JANIECE OWENS / Paul Robeson High School

TUHS Press Reporter Janiece Owen

Prisons over Universities is the issue now. The annual cost per inmate in 1980 was $11,447 but in 2012 the cost of an inmate is now $32,986 according to the Pennsylvania Department of Correction. This shows a dramatic increase in the cost of keeping one inmate.

Little do people know that one student could attend Penn State University for $15,562 or Temple University for $13,006. The question now is, why do they need so much money for prisons? The cost of one inmate could pay for two students to go to Penn State.

Something else that is affected by this is the fact that prison inmates have no higher than a 8th grade reading level and 42.8 percent have less than a 12th grade reading level.

Prisons should not get most of the state’s or country’s funding. If Governor Tom Corbett and his administration had succeeded with their “Master Plan” for higher education, they would spend about twice as much on prisons than on colleges. In 2009-2010, the state had a budget of $1.8 billion on corrections and college funding was $1.5 billion. If the Governor had done what he pleased, they would spend $1.9 billion on corrections and $980 million on colleges in 2012-2013.

Truth be told, in 2011-2012 it costs way more to keep a prisoner than to educate a student. Pennsylvania will have 49,000 inmates at a cost of $35,188 per inmate and spend $9.3 billion to eduicate 1.8 million students at a cost of $5,305 per child. That speaks for itself.

State funded colleges in Pennsylvania have been cut by one-third since the recession. This budget says that in 2013 the state will be spending twice as much on prisons than on colleges. That makes me question the government’s ideas and budget plans. To make matters worse the prisoners aren’t even getting their hands on the money, it’s going to the states so they can keep them in the prisons up and running while colleges are going into debt.

In 2009-10 corrections was $1,766 and higher education was $1,487, now in 2013-13 corrections is $1,867 and higher education is $977. The money should be going to colleges. The students probably have no idea how much money they could have. I don’t think we have enough supporters. If it was up to me i would cut half the budget on prisons and give it to colleges. It don’t make any sense to spend that much money on prisons when your saving money by spending it on students going to college.

However, there are many people who support more money for schools like Professor Prudence Carter of the Standford School of Education. She says that “in some districts less than 50 percent of students are not graduating, we need to stop this trend of drop-outs feeding the prisons systems.”

Once again they should invest their money into scholarships for students or grants for students. The more prisons we have the bigger influence it will have on students dropping out and going to prison. People should know these things because their children are missing out and losing money that could give them higher education and possibly pay for it all.

This idea of less money to colleges and universities is crazy. Putting more of the states money into prisons than into schools is insane. What is the government thinking now? They are defeating the purpose of having universities in America to better student’s education instead of putting more prisons into action. The students will also lose books, supplies and most important, grant money to get to college.

College is really expensive and they should be using that money and giving it to students. Giving us less prisons by closing them down and opening up more colleges and universities. They can even send prisoners to colleges. Its almost like they want students to go to drop out and head on a one-way ticket to prison.

Parents and students should protest at the fact that prisoners are getting more money than college students. It is almost like prisons are taking over and the citizens don’t even know it yet. The states talk about how they want to send their students to college, but to me the prisons are taking over. From the look of this, they might as well build a prison in a college.


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