Spending on prisons and jails in Maryland has grown twice as fast as spending on elementary and secondary education over three decades, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Education.

Nationally, state and local spending increased three times as fast for prisons as for education.


The report was based on an analysis of federal data for state and local spending from 1980 to 2013.

"While Maryland thinks of itself as a state supportive of education, this important report shines a light on a disturbing trend," said Bebe Verdery, education director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland.

Over those 33 years, Maryland's expenditure on education grew from $5.3 billion to $12.1 billion while spending on corrections rose from $457 million to $1.7 billion.

The number of people who were incarcerated rose from 11,152 in 1980 to 33,398 in 2013 in the state. The state's population was rising during that period, but at a far slower rate.

Nationally, growth rates for spending on corrections also outpaced appropriations for higher education, even when adjusted for population growth, according to the report. In Maryland, state spending per full-time student declined during the period from $8,946 to $7,020, while spending on prisons increased.

The U.S. Department of Education released the report at a time of debate over rates of incarceration, particularly for nonviolent offenses, and over whether criminal justice reform is needed.

The department said statistics show that two-thirds of state prison inmates have not completed high school, and that one study revealed that a black man between the ages of 20 and 24 and without a diploma has a greater chance of being incarcerated than of being employed.

Studies also show arrest rates decline when high school graduation rates increase, according to education officials.