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US study: WV should redirect some prison funding to schools

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US study: WV should redirect some prison funding to schools
David Gutman, WV Gazette-Mail

Over nearly 35 years, West Virginia’s spending on jails and prisons has increased more than five times faster than its spending on K-12 public education, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Education.

While every state’s corrections spending grew at a much faster rate from 1980 to 2013 than did its education spending, the disparity in West Virginia was among the highest in the nation, the report, released Thursday, said.

West Virginia spent 58 percent more on public education in the 2012-13 school year than it did in the 1979-80 school year, which, while significant, was the fourth-lowest increase in the country. Meanwhile, West Virginia’s spending on state and local prisons and jails increased by 483 percent over the same time, the report said.

The difference between those two numbers — the difference between growth in prison spending and growth in school spending — was the sixth-highest in the nation.

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