#PoliceState rallies for more prison profit, less money for schools

A bill winding its way through the Legislature proposes a creative way to fund early childhood education: imposing a tax on companies that do business with California’s prison systems.

The Police State naturally hates it.

A tax on the “privilege” of such contracts, as Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) puts it, is an unorthodox policy prescription. But by directly tying the state’s incarceration system to its education programs, Thurmond is treading familiar political territory.

Social science has consistently found data on education achievement — particularly drop-out rates — to be a strong indicator of who ends up behind bars.

The benefits extend to early childhood programs. A University of Chicago study released in December found that low-income children enrolled in high-quality child care programs tended to commit crime at a lower rate as adults.

Other factors, such as income, mental health and substance abuse, all figure prominently as drivers of crime. But schools, like prisons, are a major budget item for the state, making it convenient to compare the two.

“The idea just hit me,” Thurmond said, “why aren’t we taxing those who profit off of incarceration to generate a new funding stream to pay for the services that we know make the most sense?”

“It unfairly targets the contractors that are providing goods and services to the prisons,” said Marti Fisher, a lobbyist with the California Chamber of Commerce, which branded the bill a “job killer.”

Apparently it’s OK with the Chamber for the Police State to kill the poor, the homeless, people of color, and the mentally ill…just as long as police unions and prison contractors are making money.

Read the whole story in the LA Times

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