“Those on the front lines in the fight against crime know that America’s anti-crime arsenal contains no weapons more powerful than proven programs that keep kids from committing crimes in the first place. High-quality early care and education helps kids get the right start in life.”
As prison populations grow, law enforcement professionals are looking to early childhood investments as a critical strategy to reduce crime. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is an anti-crime organization of over 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, and violence survivors that supports high quality early learning programs as a critical strategy to reduce crime, lower corrections costs and save taxpayers money.
Why? There are more than 2 million American adults in local, state or federal jails or prisons. In North Carolina, it costs on average $32,594 per inmate per year to incarcerate someone. The North Carolina General Assembly budgeted $1.84 billion for the state’s Department of Public Safety for prisons in Fiscal Year 2016-2017, while only $243 million was budgeted for the Division of Child Development and Early Education during that same period.
Law enforcement support is based on decades of research that show high quality early learning programs can reduce crime. The following – from the organization’s report A Key to Reducing Future Crime in North Carolina – references the findings from studies on Perry Preschool, a high quality early childhood program.
- By age 27, children who did not attend the program were five times more likely to become chronic offenders with five or more arrests.
- By age 40, those who did not attend the program were two times more likely to become chronic offenders with more than 10 arrests and 50 percent more likely to be arrested for violent crimes.
- Children left out of the program were four times more likely to be arrested for drug felonies by age 40, and seven times more likely to be arrested for possession of dangerous drugs.
Research shows that high-quality early education programs later result in lower drug use, higher graduation rates, fewer families receiving welfare and lower crime.