SACRAMENTO — With his state strapped and his legacy looming, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed on Wednesday to greatly reduce the amount of money California spends on its prisons and to funnel that sum to the state’s higher education system instead.
The trend over the past 30 years has been to spend more on punishing people and less on education. Idaho is no exception.
Schwarzenegger's statement - “What does it say about any state that focuses more on prison uniforms than on caps and gowns?” “It simply is not healthy.” - sums up the situation.
It is doubtful that California or any other state can reverse this trend quickly. The vested interests are already giving the governor's proposal the raspberry. No one wants to appear soft on crime, but the research is without question - simply locking up more people is both expensive and a failure in terms of crime control. So the question is how will California and other states address this issue? I'm betting that a few states will tinker at the margins, but states like Idaho will be reluctant to back away from its failed sentencing policies.
Here is some additional food for thought on the consequences of spending priorities.