Spending: Schools v. Prisons

July 11, 2016
Over three decades, state and local spending on corrections has grown more than three times as fast as spending on public elementary and secondary schools. Here are the 10 states with the largest gap in growth rates.

According to a newly released policy brief from the U.S. Department of Education, from 1979-80 to 2012-13, preK-12 public school expenditures increased by 107 percent. Over those same years, state and local spending on corrections increased by 324 percent.

The statistics in the brief, State and Local Expenditures on Corrections and Education, show that the growth of spending on prisons and incarceration outpaced expenditures for public schools in every state. The widest gap in spending growth over those years was in Texas, where school spending climbed 182 percent, and corrections spending soared 850 percent.

Here are the 10 states who had the greatest gap, in percentage points, between prison spending growth and education spending growth.

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