According to a report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences shows that some (11 in total) spent more on prisons than they did on public universities. Is this a budget issues or a statement of values? When society seeks to focus more on prisons than opportunity the very foundations of our value system should be questioned.
You can tell a lot about a person by where they spend their money. We have learned through the advent of online advertisement that people's spending habits tells us much about what they find is important, how they view themselves, and where their hopes lay.
The same can be said for the choice of spending on prisons over higher education. We are able to squeeze through big prison budgets but are unable to do so for more worthy causes. In general, higher education takes third place behind public schools and medicaid. In some states, prisons beat out higher education for funding. Does this make sense?
The biggest problem is that corrections is a deep dark hole that we throw people who have violated laws. They are not generally "corrected" by attended and in some cases could even get worse by learning new skills; the college of criminals.
Corrections is necessary but should be more focused on the less expensive proposition of correcting and rehabilitating. It should not supersede our hopes and dreams of developing a country that has people who are open minded, educated, and capable of competing.
Thinking about where we are spending money, the return on investment of that money, and the alternatives of that money reflects our values. I am for spending money on things that create a return on investment; or at least the potential for a return. Higher education does have a return, children's education has a return, a new road has a return, but a prison is all cost. In some cases, It may be a necessary cost, but it should not be a value statement of what we believe.
The need for reform has been brewing for years. Is our checkbook telling us we are there?