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Each year, California spends more than $34,000 to keep one prisoner behind bars, Sunny says. That's three times more than the state spends on each student enrolled in public school per year.

Sunny says San Francisco has identified four or five "feeder" high schools in the city that produce 75 percent of inmates. "These [schools] are profoundly understaffed and underfunded," she says. "It's basic human physics. You expect little...you get little."

With more than 600,000 people getting out of jail every year, Sunny says it's important to understand who's returning to your community. According to her research, 80 percent of inmates have a reading level between third and seventh grade; 90 percent are parents; and 90 percent are survivors of childhood sexual or physical abuse. Sunny says she hopes that her adult high school prepares these inmates to return to society as better people, instead of better predators.

"We hope that the KIPP schools and Kevin Johnson's school puts us out of business in law enforcement," Sunny says.
FROM: Oprah's Special Report: American Schools in Crisis
Published on April 12, 2006