Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), introduced a bill that implements a tax on private prisons that operate in California. The tax revenue generated by the bill will fund preschool and after-school programs. Among other benefits to participants, these programs are known to lower the likelihood of incarceration.
“Every child deserves an opportunity at a high-quality education,” said Thurmond. “Students who have access to early education and after-school programs show higher test scores and increased engagement in school. This bill will invest in programs that promote educational equity.”
Current active contracts between private prisons and the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation total over $200 million. The proposed corrections budget this year alone totals $12 billion. In comparison, the state spends relatively little on programs known to prevent incarceration.
Studies show that access to high-quality preschool programs results in a 20% lower likelihood of incarceration. Preschool attendance has also been shown to be a key indicator for attending college and results in higher lifetime income earnings compared to those who did not attend preschool.
Effective after-school programs bring a wide range of benefits to youth, families, and communities. After-school programs have been proven to enhance academic performance, promote physical health, and provide a safe and structured environment for the children of working parents.
This bill supplements existing prison population reduction efforts by focusing on reducing contact with the criminal justice system in the first instance. By providing high-quality early educational opportunities, this bill addresses the school-to-prison pipeline.