Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jerry Brown cuts Education so he can Incarcerate Marijuana Smokers.

''We will do everything we can to minimize cuts to public schools,'' Brown said. ''I can't promise you there won't be more cuts because there will be.''

Brown told the roughly 200 people at the briefing that the state's financial situation is worse than it was in the Great Depression.

Well times are bad so Jerry Brown, the liberal from California, has decided he has no choice but to take an axe to higher education. After all higher ed accounts for 5.9% of the states budget. And really what return is there on education spending? Well there is increased economic activity, higher future tax revenues and lower crime but lets not get our priorities mixed up.

Rachel Meyer has discovered another area which might be ripe for cuts. She begins her story of her promising client who was on the way to a better life when he failed his urinalysis for marijuana. Now her client will be just another lifer in the California system. California uses 9.7%, or 10.6 billion dollars annually to lock up 175,000 citizens. Jerry Brown is following a pattern for California by cutting education and preserving incarceration dollars.. Education spending as a percentage has fallen two thirds since 1967 while spending on prisons has tripled.

Strangely Rachel is not the first to notice. In 2007 the Urban Strategies Council documented per prisoner spending at $216,000 for youth and $43,000 per adult while per pupil expenditures were less then $10,000.

The long term trend does shows a general change in attitude. Certainly Nixon's war on Drugs is in part to blame but that pales in comparison to Three strikes and Your Out. Since 1993 in California the law has radically increased the number of inmates. The law has some peculiarities. While a juveniles convictions are generally sealed for purposes of three strikes and you out the records are unsealed. Thus a person with one felony years in the past can receive tow charges for his current offense and receive a minimum 25 year sentence. People have been sentenced to twenty five years in California for shoplifting gulf clubs, stealing a slice of pizza and in one case disputing a air conditioning repair bill. Since 1990 the California prison population has increased by 73%.

I do not know about you but this does not look like a liberal state to me.

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