The University of California is an awesome institution. Its ten campuses give 150,000 college students a high-quality public education every year and UC Berkeley, UCSF, and Boalt Hall can compete with any super-expensive private school on quality and reputation. UC Davis is largely responsible for California's fantastic wine, and for some reason UCLA is crazy famous in Asia. It's a model for public higher education.But the University of California has been getting less awesome because it's been getting less affordable. The state has been giving the University of California less money, and the UC system is passing the favor along by hiking up rates for students. This year, the UC's Board of Regents is raising college tuition another 32 percent. A year at UCLA will now cost $10,300, three times the price in 1999. Students are rightfully outraged.But you know what California has managed to find the money for? Warehousing people in prison. This chart from Kevin Drum shows the parallel between tuition hikes at the UC schools and money spent on "corrections" in the state.Do you think making the UC schools less affordable will create more or fewer future criminals? That's a rhetorical question. The budget issues are complex, but it's ridiculous to be spending this kind of public money on prison and denying it for education.Photo from Flickr user Epioles (cc).