I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

David Rovics: We Are Everywhere

To my fellow activists now struggling through life - let this be a reminder that you are not alone and that we desperately need you here. All the injustice, grief, war, and human suffering calls for us to stay and do everything we can about it - you can't help us anymore when you're gone. Don't give up the fight - your last shred of hope may just keep someone else alive, too.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

AZ Second in Corrections $$; 38th in Education

This what it means in Arizona to be "tough on crime" - stealing futures from kids. Look at where we invest our money: that's what flourishes. That's why this state is in such a serious decline. People like Kavanaugh are deciding our priorities for us.

I'm trying to follow his logic here: The amount of money we invest in education is not a reflection of how much we value education or the quality of it; however, the exorbitant amount we spend on police and prisons is justified? 

That's what it sounds like he's saying - and he's the AZ State House Appropriations Chairman. He'd sooner put your kid in prison for $26,000/year at 21, than subsidize his college tuition for $5,000/year at 18.  

By the way, Mr. Chairman, a "very median educational performance record" is not something to be bragging about. You might as well be telling Arizonans that they should be delighted that you're feeding our children mediocrity.


Census data: Arizona second in police, corrections spending, 38th in education

By Evan Wyloge, Cronkite News Service

Published: September 30, 2009 at 7:58 am

Arizona outspent all but one state on police protection and corrections as a percentage of overall state and local expenditures while its education spending ranked 38th in U.S. Census Bureau data released Wednesday (Sept. 30).

“You get what you pay for,” said Jeffrey Chapman, Arizona State University Foundation Professor of Applied Public Finance. “We’re a low-tax, low-expenditure state. We like police, we like corrections and we don’t want to spend money on public services.”

The census data, based on 2007 expenditures, shows that Arizona’s spending patterns remained fairly constant from previous years. Chapman said that demonstrates shortsightedness on the part of leaders, promoting construction and industries tied to growth and preparing people to work in those jobs.

“They’d rather see retail clerks, construction workers and corrections officers in Arizona,” Chapman said. “They’re giving no regard to our children or our grandchildren.”

The data also showed that Arizona ranked fourth among states in expenditures on fire protection, 21th on public welfare and 28th on highways.

House Appropriations Chairman Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, defended the state’s spending on police protection, which was second only to Nevada, and on corrections, which was second only to California.

“Of course we spend more proportionally on law enforcement than other states,” Kavanagh said. “We have to be tough with criminals, as a matter of justice and deterrence. And being a border state, we deal with cross-border crime and we have one of the largest populations of illegal aliens.”

Kavanagh also said it’s wrong to suggest that Arizona isn’t committed to education.

“We actually have a very median educational performance record,” he said. “I prefer to judge our educational system by performance, not spending.”

Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, said Arizona would be better served by shifting its priorities.

“For four years I’ve been trying to change this,” she said. “And I think the public is unfamiliar with these numbers, so I’m glad to hear that they’re being talked about.”

Roger Hartley, associate professor of public administration and policy at the University of Arizona, said the money states spend on education correlates with earning potential, while poverty correlates with crime.

“We can see that we’re putting more money into putting people in prison rather than educating and thereby keeping people out of prison,” he said. Kavanagh called that conclusion overreaching, and pointed to Washington, D.C., as evidence.”

They have one of the worst crime rates, and they spend more than just about anybody per student,” he said.

Travis Pratt, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at ASU, said crime rates aren’t simple enough to link one-on-one with education, but he said it would be wrong to dismiss any connection with education.

He said spending on law enforcement pays political dividends much sooner than education.

“Budgets aren’t limitless, and Arizona devotes a greater portion of theirs to controlling rather than preventing crime,” he said. “And because spending on institutions like education and social services might not pay off for 10 or 15 years - not before the next election - politicians don’t see a reason for it.”

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