Say that again, the United States of America has more jails than colleges. Yes, the country founded on “freedom and liberty for all,” technically has more facilities made available for keeping people incarcerated than it does putting them through college.
Let that sink in for a moment. While you do that, take a look at the following map which shows a detailed account of corrections housing vs. college housing:
In the U.S. there are more than 5,000 jails and prisons, which is higher than the number of accredited colleges and universities where citizens can receive degrees. Our national incarceration rate is 707 adults per every 100,000 residents, significantly higher than any other country in the world. Also, in more than 85 percent of the U.S. counties, there are incarcerated beings, whether serving minor time or life-long sentences.
While the number of jails does not mean that there are more prisoners than college students (6.9 million vs. 19.5 million), it does show that for a time the U.S. was particularly focused on arresting people more than it was on educating them. Experts will point to the 80’s and 90’s, particularly to the increased focus on its war on crime and drugs. However, it’s now 2015 and the numbers still support that there are indeed more places for people to sit behind bars than in front of a chalkboard.
This means, your tax money continues to be spent maintaining facilities that are actually hurting society more than they are contributing to it. If we were to invest more into people’s educations and providing them the tools to be financially successful without a dependence on crime to survive, more facilities would likely be shut down.