That’s a far more complex issue dealing with the effects of Ronald Reagan’s War on Drugs, the Prison Industrial Complex that reaps profits from the explosive growth of prison inmates and prison buildings. How the system seeks to incarcerate and send inmates back into society with little effort to educate or help them be hard working citizens. Smaller crimes like possession of drugs earn prison time that exposes relatively small time “criminals” to far more dangerous and intense environments that sucks them into the criminal world. Divestment from K-12 education means less ability of schools to provide safe and fostering environments that would help prevent children from entering a life of crime. But the nation doesn’t want to have that conversation. Every time we talk about Prisons, we just say “Lock ‘em up”, instead of looking at more serious underlying issues. Back to the Prison Industrial Complex, law enforcement and local governments have monetary incentives to have strict laws that lock up more small-time transgressors in Prisons run not as rehabilitation facilities, but as a for-profit way to stuff as many prisoners into the smallest space possible and extract the most money from the local/state governments.
Addendum: How does this relate to Higher Education spending in the State of California? Again, there are only two budgetary items that are around $10k (in millions). That is Prisons and Higher Education. The trend, with the rise of the Prison Industrial Complex, has been massive increases in spending on Prisons. It used to be something like $5k to Prisons and $15k to Higher Education, some 30 years ago. The single California budget item that has been eating the money bleeding out of Higher Education is the Prison budget. That is why addressing California’s Prison crisis is a critical component to bringing State contribution back to the UC.