By Zeeshan Aleem / Policy.Mic

Hardly a day goes by without a member of the media or policy world pronouncing that America’s education system is in dire straits.

There are constant laments over how poorly the U.S. fares by international standards, its failure to produce literate students and its unsightly levels of racial segregation. There’s a massive debate over how to overcome these problems, but there’s no doubt that at least one factor would help: more money. 

But where would the money come from? America’s broken and bloated prison system might be a good start.

Keeping someone alive in prison is expensive — much more so than educating them. The GIF below uses data from the Vera Institute of Justice’s 2012 “Price of Prisons” report and 2012 U.S. Census data on public school costs. (Several states did not complete the survey, and thus are missing from this chart.) You can see that average resources devoted to prisoners annually easily outpace resources for students:

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About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

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