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More Money Spent on Prisons Than on College, Group Says

More Money Spent on Prisons Than on College, Group Says

MESA, Ariz.

An education advocacy group says Arizona spends too much money operating prisons and too little money helping minorities earn college diplomas.

“Arizona now spends more money to incarcerate its Latino population than it does to educate them,” says Joel Foster, a member of the Arizona Advocacy Network, a group of nonprofit organizations.

A study by the group released earlier this month found that for every dollar spent from the state General Fund to aid Hispanics in attending college, about $1.54 is spent to incarcerate people of that ethnicity.

The study, entitled “Borrowing Against the Future: The Impact of Prison Expansion on Arizona Families, Schools and Communities,” argues against two proposed state prisons the group says could cost the state up to $100 million a year.

Foster said the idea for the study came last fall when members of the group started looking at the state budget and they “got a little concerned.”

Funding for prisons has continued to increase in the past two decades, while the percentage of the state budget spent on higher education is going down, the study said.

The bulk of cuts to higher education are passed on to students and their families through tuition and fee increases, the study said, which makes higher education even less attainable for many Hispanics.

The difficulties faced by the Hispanic community are illustrated by the disproportionate amount of Hispanics who are imprisoned in this state, the group argues.

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