Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chancellor Reed on Prisons

CSU Chancellor Reed just wrote an opinion piece in the SF Chronicle about California's commitment to prisons and its lack of commitment to higher education.  It contains quite a few good points, and while  normally I'd be pleased to see the Chancellor finally speak out about the lack of funding for the CSU system, the fact of the matter is the guy decided to do this after the frickin' budget already passed!  C'mon dude, get with it!

With that said, Reed makes several good points:

The proposed plan to release 27,000 prisoners would move to home detention those prisoners with a year left on their sentences, as well as the elderly and infirm, and change sentencing and parole rules for inmates who show promise of rehabilitation. But inconceivably, for some policy leaders in Sacramento, the idea of setting those people free is more unthinkable than denying 40,000 students the right to higher education.

Now for the final injustice: It costs $49,000 per year to keep a prisoner behind bars in California. However, the state's contribution per student at the CSU is just $4,600. This dichotomy is not just outrageous, it's tragic. For such a relatively small amount of money, a young person could get a good education, secure a meaningful job and become a contributing member to the community and the economy. But instead of preserving this small investment in our young people, our leaders would rather spend 10 times as much to keep prisoners behind bars.

Under this scenario, California will be better prepared to house today's young people as prisoners than grant them diplomas.

You can read the whole piece here