mission is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths due to
Since 1984, California
February 12, 2003
Prisons or Schools? California's Future -- Out of Balance
To educate or incarcerate? That is the question California Governor Gray Davis seems to have already settled for himself and for the young people of California. Governor Davis has proposed a ten percent or $5 billion dollar budget cut for California’s already beleaguered educational system. At the same time, with a budget deficit of an estimated 34 billion dollars over the next 18 months, he announced that he would increase the state’s corrections budget by $5.3 billion dollars. What’s wrong with this picture?
The state of California has the 3rd largest penal system in the world, following China's and the United States' correctional systems. Why would a single U.S. state need to incarcerate more people than most other nations as a whole do? California spends approximately $27,000 annually on an inmate, and less than $7,000 per student on education. Why do we spend more incarcerating than educating someone?
The answers have to do with money and politics. First, Davis gets huge campaign contributions from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA.) According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the 25,000 member CCPOA union, which represents prison guards, has "directly contributed about $200,000 to Governor Davis" (1/13/02) and "has given $3 million to Davis campaigns since 1998"(1/19/03). Not surprisingly, despite California's budgetary woes, in the fall of 2002, Davis managed to find the funds to provide CCPOA as much as a 25% pay increase. Then, apparently ignoring his proposed $5 billion dollar cut to education, Davis recently "decided that what we need more than anything else is a new prison — a $220 million state-of-the-art death row." (LA Weekly 2/7/03)
Prisons need to be seen as the corporate interest they've become. While some communities may see a new prison as a "cash cow" for their town, this is shortsighted and misguided. 1 Rather than expanding the prison industry, California should be safely reducing the number of people incarcerated as have some other states, including Louisiana, Michigan and Texas. Safe strategies for reducing prison populations include: eliminating mandatory sentences for drug offenders, paroling more people, and not incarcerating parolees for technical violations of their parole.
We demand that Governor Davis make policies that will reduce prison spending and stop eroding California's foundering educational system.
Now is a critical time. Governor Davis' popularity is at an all time low. Maybe now he will listen to the voice of the people. Don't miss this opportunity for making your voice heard! You can find out more and find out how to speak out by visiting the following web sites:
1 "Prison seen as cash cow–As a $100 million women’s prison rises in impoverished Pembroke Township, local leaders worry that it may not become the cash cow they have hoped." The Chicago Tribune
Justice Policy Institute
(This site has extensive info about the CCPOA).
Parents for Public Schools
Identify Your Senator
Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee