Fight Crime: Invest in Kids

10/2/2013 -


Cumberland County Jail Hosts Event to Spotlight Cuts To Crime and Incarceration
Through Broader Access to Quality Preschool

PORTLAND, ME (October 2, 2013) – Maine members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids gathered at the Cumberland County Jail today to release a report – “I’m The Guy You Pay Later” – that shows implementation of a proposed state-­‐federal early childhood education partnership could reduce the number of people who are incarcerated in Maine by 200 and lead to $16 million in cost savings for the state every year.

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce, Portland Chief Michael Sauschuck, and Chair of the State Board of Corrections and Two Bridges Regional Jail Administrator Mark Westrum spoke at the event. They were among the more than 1,000 Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members who have signed a letter urging Congress to work in partnership with the Administration to enact the proposal, which would provide states with resources to create, strengthen and expand quality state preschool to serve low-­‐ and moderate-­‐income four-­‐year-­‐olds nationwide. The proposal would also expand early childhood development programs for more children from birth through age three, including voluntary home visiting programs that can reduce child abuse and neglect by helping young parents understand their children’s health needs, create safer home environments and develop parenting skills.

The sheriffs, police chiefs and prosecutors base their support on significant research documenting the impact of quality early childhood programs on crime reduction. "I’m the Guy You Pay Later" notes that the federal cost of the preschool element of the proposal, $75 billion over 10 years, is only one-­‐tenth of the $75 billion that is spent every year to incarcerate adults in federal and state prisons and local jails. The report also shows that implementing the proposal could save $75 billion over 10 years as a result of lowered costs for incarceration, which is equivalent to the proposal’s federal costs.

The nation is therefore at a critical “fork in the road” with the opportunity to reduce the number of future inmates by putting millions of children on a more secure path to school and life success.

“As public safety officials, our jobs are to be tough on crime and criminals, but once a crime has been committed, lives are already shattered,” Joyce said. “We are all committed to getting ahead of the crime curve and to do that education needs to be a focal point of any crime prevention strategy. When 54 percent of our prisoner have less than a high school diploma, the path forward is pretty clear. Making sure all Maine kids get the right start in life with high-­‐quality early education is one of the best crime prevention tools we have.”

“High-­‐quality early education is a win-­‐win for Maine,” Westrum said. “It helps reduce crime. It raises the graduation rates and employment possibilities for the students who participate. In mere financial terms, the return on investment is extraordinary. And that does not even take into account the savings of human pain and suffering that results from criminal activity. My Maine law enforcement colleagues and I have long been champions of increased access to high-­‐ quality early education and care and we applaud the President’s proposal and will be working with member of the Maine Congressional delegation to move this legislation forward.”

Mason Dixon poll and bipartisan action show widespread support

The Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members also referred to a nationwide Mason Dixon poll of law enforcement leaders conducted in July and August that showed overwhelming support for the proposal.

“Law enforcement leaders know from both the research and from our own career experiences that high-­‐quality early education programs work and are good for our children and our communities. As a group, we spoke loud and clear in a recent poll with our support for the pending state-­‐federal proposal, with eighty percent of us saying Congress needs to find a way to make it happen,” said Sauschuck. “This should be a non-­‐partisan and bi-­‐partisan issue: putting in place proven programs that positively impact crime reduction and save taxpayer dollars.”

Law enforcement leaders responding to the poll ranked “increasing high quality preschool and home visiting services” as the strategy that would have the greatest long-­‐term impact on crime reduction, compared to tougher sentencing for juvenile offenders, hiring more police to investigate juvenile crime, installing more metal detectors and cameras in schools, or making parents legally liable for their children’s crimes.

A national Public Opinion Strategies/Hart Research survey of registered voters released on July 31 also found that 70 percent of Americans favor providing preschool to all low-­‐ and moderate-­‐ income 4-­‐year-­‐olds and expanding home visiting and parent education programs and early education and care for infants and toddlers. Support was strong across the political spectrum, including 60 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Independents

The report was released at a time of significant bi-­‐partisan support for quality preschool, home visiting and early childhood programs. In 2013, governors of 24 states – more than half of whom are Republican – proposed and/or signed into law expansions of preschool.

Research shows academic and crime reduction outcomes

The Fight Crime: Invest in Kids report highlights reductions in crime and incarceration among participants of three key programs that primarily served children from low-­‐income families.

By age 40, children who participated in Ypsilanti, Michigan’s Perry Preschool were 46 percent less likely than non-­participants to have been sentenced to prison or jail. Non-­‐participants were five times more likely to be chronic offenders with five or more arrests by the age of 27.

Children who participated in the Chicago Child-­Parent Center (CPC) preschool program were 20 percent less likely to have been incarcerated by age 24 than non-­‐participants, while non-­participants were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18.

Children served by the Nurse-­‐Family Partnership home visiting program were half as likely to be convicted of a crime by the age of 19 as those not served, and the program was shown to cut child abuse and neglect in half.

"I’m the Guy You Pay Later" also highlights studies of state preschool programs in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and North Carolina that achieved numerous positive and sustained outcomes, including fewer behavior problems, improved school readiness, reduced special education, fewer children held back, literacy and math achievement that continued through elementary school, and fewer high school drop-­outs.

The report also notes that a Washington Institute for Public Policy analysis of over 20 preschool programs demonstrated that quality preschool returned an average “profit” (net economic benefit) to society of $15,000 for every child served, by cutting crime and the cost of incarceration and reducing other costs such as special education and welfare. That same cost-­‐ benefit analysis found that the Nurse-­‐Family Partnership voluntary home visiting program led to a net economic benefit of more than $13,000 per child served.

To learn more about the state-­‐federal early learning proposal or to view the full report, visit