Since 1980, higher education spending has decreased by 13 percent in inflation adjusted dollars, whereas spending on California’s prisons and associated correctional programs has skyrocketed by 436 percent. The state now shells out more money from its general fund for the prison system than the higher education system. (When combined with K-12 education, the state’s overall education spending dwarfs its prison expenditures.)
Fifty-five percent of the growth of corrections spending is the result of the state simply putting more people in jail. Over the past three decades, the number of inmates in California facilities has increased eight times faster than size of the overall population.