Nationwide, spending on corrections has been soaring, according to a new policy brief from the U.S. Department of Education. Since 1980, expenditures on state and local corrections has increased 324 percent. At the same time, what we are paying for education has been a relatively modest increase of 107 percent.
And while New Jersey is one of the state’s that has increased pre-K to 12 education spending, the ramp up in spending still lags that of corrections. Taking account population growth, New Jersey’s increase in corrections costs per capita grew 79 points higher than that of education per pupil. When considered as line-item budget increase, it was 149 points higher for corrections than education.
Higher education fared just as poorly, with a 77 percent difference between what we spend for a full-time equivalent college student and per-capita corrections cost.
The department recommends reducing incarcerations and redirecting funds to education — by increasing teacher salaries in hard-to-staff positions, adding pre-K, and providing more opportunity via higher education.