Randy Krum
President of InfoNewt.
Data Visualization and Infographic Design

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Students vs. Prisoners infographic


Nice, clean, simple infographic design.  Students vs. Prisoners by the law firm Buckfire & Buckfire in Michigan visually communicates one message really well: In Michigan, the average spending per prisoner is close to three times that spent per student.

Potentially a controversal budget topic in Michigan, I appreaciate that they clearly listed the link to the data source.  A couple things I would change about this design:

  • Visualize the total spending dollars that are currently listed at the the bottom in text
  • I like the use of a chalkboard style font, but it’s not used consistently throughout the design
  • For the benefits listed in the middle, I think it would be more interesting to show how much each one contributed to the total spending per prisoner

Thanks to Larry for sending me the link!

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Reader Comments (11)

Aaaand the #1 reason my family moved to Texas from Michigan is....
August 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEntrepremom
I think the way they list the categories decreases the impact. No one thinks that giving cable TV to students would improve education. I think they should list some of the non-essential priorities where the $9575 goes (teacher's union dues for lobbying of non-education-related issues, photocopies of word searches, stadiums for intermural sports, student parking lots, etc.) alongside the silly things that prisoners receive which do not lead to reform (cable TV etc.)
August 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrock
Doesn't this make you stop and think about the power of infographics to lie to you? For example, students are in school 7*180 = 1260 hours a year, and prisoners are in prison 24*365 = 8760 hours a year. That's almost 7 times as much supervision for only 3 times the cost.

Or check out the grinning prisoner and the unhappy kids. What kind of parallel universe would you have to live in to think most prisoners are happy to be there because of the free cable TV?

Or think about the idea that it's somehow a misplaced priority to provide food and health care to someone you've locked up. There's a word for the alternative, and it's called murder.

Or how about the idea that it would somehow be more cost effective not to provide inmates with cable, or libraries, or exercise facilities, or education? In the short run, if the distraction prevents one serious injury or riot, the program has paid for itself. In the long run, if education helps one person stay out of prison once they leave, the program pays for itself 100 times over.

In short, when you have access to nice design, you can use it to communicate something important, or you can use it -- as in this case -- to communicate a stupid piece of propaganda. Remember the power of the techniques you're promoting ...
August 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack
The design is nice and clear, but it makes it look like students don't have internet access, libraries, computers and that schools should be required to feed children dinner along with breakfast and lunch. Is this really true?
August 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkel
"if education helps one person stay out of prison once they leave, the program pays for itself 100 times over."

Oh, I get it. Let's educate the kids AFTER they go to prison. Makes total sense now.

My child used to be enrolled in Detroit Public Schools and yes some of those schools don't have internet access, staffed libraries (let alone recently published books), reasonably up to date computers, etc. I don't think the children need to be fed 3 times a day but the 2 times they are fed could be much better quality food. Not to mention, all students aren't fed. Many students provide and/or buy their own lunch so that number could quite possibly be smaller.
September 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEntrepremom
I think this is a clear view why some public schools produce low standard students. There is a big difference in budget allocation like the inmates having a higher budget compared with the students.Last thing also, is it true that cable television can enhance the learning of students?
September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJem | Flyer Printing
This is kind of amusing: in Pennsylvania, after being released, you get a bill from the prison. On top of whatever fines and legal fees you may have, you also have to pay for you stay. It is like a horrible extended vacation in a -3 star hotel.

Michigan prisons really have Cable television? With only 4 channels, on a clear day, folks still fight about whats on that tv (but everyone loved American Idol, no joke). I just can't see everyone agreeing on what to watch. There's too many people trying to be alpha males.
September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

It's the total amount spent per person. Sure, the infographic mixed in things like cable with health care, but the point is that prisoners in Michigan get more help from the government than children. Can you REALLY call this stupid? If anything, I'd reorganize the information according to priority and emphasize the dollar amount next to the benefits.
September 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenn A
You forgot "Get to go home at 2:30pm."

That's a clear win for the students.
September 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael
Nowadays the education system has become such a burden that students never gets time for enjoyment. After all people in prison need not run behind school buses and spend hours on traffic block. Thank You Randy for sharing the infographics.
September 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Lofler
i believe the creater of the picture is trying to show how selfish and poorly used that money is being treated that it probably it should be the complete opposite it should be. i dont think the spending in alabama is similar. but i dont think the spending is right and i do think it should be changed because it should be going to the students so they can try to get an education so they can stay away from jail.
September 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjoseph f.
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