Law enforcement says preschool reduces crime

September 7, 2010 7:49:39 PM PDT
Preschool is an important tool in crime-fighting, according to a new report from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a San Francisco-based coalition of California law enforcement officials.

"High quality preschool for at-risk kids and socio-economically disadvantaged families is especially powerful," said Barrie Becker, State Director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California. "It also is proven to help them avoid becoming involved in crime, avoid dropping out of school even before that."

Concord Police Chief and Contra Costa Sheriff-Elect David Livingston is a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Livingston cited statistics from the Michigan Perry Preschool Program, which followed two groups of 3 and 4 year olds until age 40.

"By age 40, the children who did not attend the program were seven times more likely to be arrested for possession of dangerous drugs, were four times more likely to be arrested for drug felonies and twice as likely to be arrested for violent crimes," said Livingston.

According to the "Fight Crime" report, quality early education saves $16 for every $1 invested. Some of that savings would come from reduced costs of future incarceration. Beyond that, the report found that high quality preschool reduces special education placement in later school years. In the Bay Area, the estimated savings is $150 million per year, or about 10 percent of the current $1.5 billion spent annually on special education.

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is calling for a shift from the current K-12 model to a preschool through grade 12 education approach. The new model would include federal incentives for states to increase access to high-quality preschool programs as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, formerly called "No Child Left Behind."


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