Problem of PA Prison Population and Price

Last week Bill Cosby declared that it only costs taxpayers $4,000 a year to educate a child, but $33,000 a year to incarcerate someone (this statement is inaccurate, unless referring to Pennsylvania higher education subsidies per college student). Cosby also says that public education is more likely to keep children out of prison. However, the number of inmates in Pennsylvania prisons has increased by 40 percent in nine years,
according to a Tribune-Review story despite increased “investment” in education.

So while we are spending more on education Pennsylvania taxpayers are also upping the ante for state prisons – spending $1.66 billion dollars. Every additional dollar that is being spent on incarceration does not reduce recidivism rates and or stem the growth in incarceration.

There are however, alternatives to ever increasing expenditures on prison. Texas experimented with a number of reforms to reduce prison spending while protecting public safety. Alternatives to prison include probation, drug courts, and electronic monitoring. In fact, a Florida study found offenders were 89 to 95 percent less likely to be revoked to prison if they were monitored.