More than 600 law enforcement leaders sign letter supporting early care and education, proven way to reduce crime and lower prison costs
WASHINGTON, April 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 600 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and other law enforcement leaders in all 50 states delivered a letter to Congress, urging them to reject proposed cuts to early care and education programs as they continue intense negotiations over the federal budget. In the letter, the law enforcement leaders said that they support high-quality early education as a critical strategy to reduce crime, lower prison costs and save taxpayers money. Click here to view the letter.
The national anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is sponsoring a nationwide law enforcement campaign to promote support for high-quality early childhood education. Law enforcement leaders across the country are signaling their support during visits to early learning programs.
The letter to Congress from law enforcement leaders comes as the National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER)—a leading research organization on early learning—prepares to release a comprehensive state-by-state survey of pre-kindergarten programs on Tuesday. The NIEER report is expected to show that severe cuts to some state preschool programs has caused thousands of children to lose early care and education services. (For more information, go to www.nieer.org.)
Congress and state legislatures are considering spending cuts that could force hundreds of thousands of children to lose access to early care and education programs, adding to the vast unmet need of young, at-risk children who cannot attend. However, a new series of research briefs called "Pay Now or Pay Much More Later" details evidence showing that high-quality early care and education can help at-risk children succeed, significantly reduce the likelihood that they will commit crimes and save taxpayer dollars from reduced prison expenses and other costs.
While overall crime rates are decreasing in many jurisdictions, the nation spends almost $50 billion each year on corrections with over 2.3 million adults locked up in either state or federal prisons and local jails. Nationwide, state expenditures on corrections quadrupled between 1982 and 2008, according to U.S. Department of Justice and Census Bureau data.
A long-term study of Michigan's Perry Preschool found that at-risk children who did not participate in the high-quality program were five times more likely to be chronic offenders by age 27 than children who did attend. Because of their increased involvement in crime, the children who did not attend were 86 percent more likely to be sentenced to jail or prison by the age of 40.
The law enforcement leaders also agree that cutting funding for early childhood programs would be shortsighted and risky since quality early care and education programs actually save money in the long run. The Perry Preschool Program cut crime, welfare and other costs so much that it saved taxpayers an average of $180,000 for every child served, with the vast majority of the public savings coming from reduced crime costs alone.
Law enforcement leaders are urging policymakers to protect and strengthen early care and education programs. Congress also has the opportunity to improve these programs through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and other education initiatives that will help states to improve and increase access to high-quality early education.
FIGHT CRIME: INVEST IN KIDS is a national anti-crime organization of police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, other law enforcement leaders and violence survivors, with over 5,000 members nationwide.
Law enforcement leaders available to comment opposing early childhood education cuts. For examples, click here.
SOURCE Fight Crime: Invest in Kids