New NAACP Report Ties State Spending on Prisons to Low Education Achievement

Conservative leaders, prison guard union, education and business experts join bipartisan call to reduce incarceration

Multi-city billboard campaign will kick off regional efforts to reform criminal justice policy and influence state budgets

April 7th National Press Club; 1:30 p.m.


The NAACP announced an upcoming report that examines escalating levels of prison spending and its impact on state budgets and our nation’s children. “Misplaced Priorities: Under Educate, Over Incarcerate” uncovers a disturbing connection between high incarceration rates and poorly performing schools.

Misplaced Priorities
tracks the steady shift of state funds away from education and toward the criminal justice system. For instance, in Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, more than 65 percent of the lowest-performing schools are in neighborhoods with the highest rates of incarceration. Researchers found that over-incarceration most impacts vulnerable, often minority populations, and that it destabilizes communities. The report offers recommendations that would help policymakers downsize prison populations and shift the savings to education budgets.

The effort is part of the NAACP’s “Smart and Safe Campaign,” an initiative designed to reform the nation’s criminal justice system.

The April 7 press conference will feature representatives of law enforcement and a growing bipartisan coalition calling on state lawmakers to rethink decades-old criminal justice policies. In addition to NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, speakers will include:

- Rod Paige, former Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush
- Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform;
- David Keene, former Chairman of the American Conservative Union and “of counsel” with The Carmen Group, a Washington-based governmental affairs firm;
- Pat Nolan, of Prison Fellowship, who worked with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich to establish the conservative Right On Crime coalition;
- Mike Jimenez, a member of the executive committee of Corrections USA, which represents 80,000 corrections officers nationwide, as well as president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association;
- Mitchell Kapor, philanthropist and founder of Lotus 1-2-3;
- Lindsay McCluskey, President of the United States Student Association.

“We need to be ‘smart on crime’ rather than ‘tough on crime’ and address soaring incarceration rates in this country,” stated Jealous. “Failing schools, college tuition hikes and shrinking state education budgets are narrowing the promise of education for young people all across the country. Meanwhile, allocations for our incarceration system continue to increase, sending our youth the wrong message about their future.”

A billboard campaign will accompany the report’s release. It will be displayed in airports around the United States, including Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The ads will feature jarring statistics about our nation’s criminal justice system. One message will read: “Welcome to America, home to 5% of the world’s people and 25% of the world’s prisoners. There is a better way.”

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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