Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Study Compares Number of Blacks in Prisons, Higher Education. (Noteworthy News)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Study Compares Number of Blacks in Prisons, Higher Education. (Noteworthy News)

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON

A study released last month by a Washington think tank shows that in the last two decades, state spending on corrections grew at 6 times the rate of state spending on higher education. In addition, by the close of the millennium, there were nearly a third more African American men in prison and jail than in universities or colleges.

The study, titled "Cellblocks or Classrooms? The Funding of Higher Education and Corrections and Its Impact on African-American Men," was conducted by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI).

According to the study, between 1985 and 2000, the increase in state spending on corrections was nearly double that of the increase to higher education ($20 billion versus $10.7 billion), and the total increase in spending on higher education by states was 24 percent, compared with 166 percent for corrections. The study also reports that in 2000, there were an estimated 791,600 African American men in prison and jail, and 603,000 in higher education.

"This report underlines the sad reality that the nation's colleges and universities have lost budget battles to the growing prison system," says Vincent Schiraldi, JPI president and report co-author. "With harder economic times ahead, we need to find a way to responsibly reduce this country's reliance on expensive prisons so that we don't bankrupt our institutions of higher learning."

As corrections assumed a larger share of state spending, the burden for paying for college has shifted to students. From 1980 to 1998, tuition and fees support for higher education has risen at 8 times the rate of state support. For low-income families, the cost of paying for tuition at a four-year institution increased from 13 percent of their income to 25 percent. …

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