A Look At California's Punishment Economy

California’s punishment economy is booming. State taxpayers spend $20 BILLION every year to operate one of the largest prison systems in the world. California has one of the largest and most expensive prison systems in the world.

Every year, state taxpayers spend $20 billion to punish people. That’s more than enough to cover the costs of tuition for every student attending public college in California. And it’s almost three times the state’s public spending on mental health services.

Research shows that there is no connection between locking people up and the safety of our communities, yet the business of punishment is booming. California’s punishment economy includes jails, youth and adult prisons, probation, criminal courts and related systems.

The industry is harmful, ineffective, expensive and overwhelmingly targets poor people of color. It’s time to invest in what really keeps communities safe: education, health, and preventative and rehabilitative services. We need schools, not prisons.

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