Joshua T. Gardner
1st Degree Sexual Assault of a Minor
Douglas Co. Law Enforcement Concerned By
Dropout Rate, Crime Connection
Chief, sheriff and D.A. urge early childhood investment to prevent dropouts, cut crime
OMAHA, NEB. (June 5, 2009) -- Douglas County Sheriff Timothy Dunning, Omaha Chief of Police Eric Buske, and Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine held a news conference Friday to discuss the connection between high dropout rates and violent crime. They released a report called “Dropouts and Crime: The Need for High-Quality Early Education in Nebraska.”
The report includes evidence showing that investing in quality early childhood education for at-risk kids would increase graduation rates and prevent crime.
One in five students in Nebraska fail to finish school on time or drop out entirely. High school dropouts are three and one half times more likely to be arrested and eight times more likely to be incarcerated. In fact, nearly 70 percent of state prison inmates nationwide failed to earn a high school diploma.
“As students prepare for graduation day across our state, it’s a timely reminder that too many young people won’t be joining them,” Buske said. “Not all dropouts become criminals, but young people who don’t have a quality education lose options and opportunity. Investing in early education will help more kids succeed in school, so they never turn to crime. ”
Long-term studies of high-quality preschools have shown that children who attend are significantly more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to commit crimes later in life. By age 40, children who attended a Michigan preschool together were 44 percent more likely to graduate from high school than those who did not participate. The at-risk children left out of the program were five times more likely to be chronic offenders by age 27.
Quality early education programs have been proven to save the public as much as $16 for every $1 invested by reducing crime, welfare and other costs. The report also shows that if Nebraska raised male graduation rates by 10 percent, the state would save approximately $65 million dollars every year, including almost $33 million in reduced crime costs alone.
“It’s easier to teach a child than to mend a man. These kids are only four once, so it’s critically important that we help them get the right start so they succeed in school and don’t end up on the wrong side of the law later in life,” Dunning said.
The law enforcement leaders urged U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson to work to increase federal funding for early childhood education to improve graduation rates and prevent crime in Nebraska.
President Obama pledged $10 billion in new federal support for early education and care and has proposed a new set of grants to the states for quality early learning initiatives.
“It’s our responsibility to protect the public from crime. By expanding early education programs, we have an opportunity to get kids on track for success at an early age, so they don’t end up in trouble later on,” Kleine said.
The report was released by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, an anti-crime organization of 5,000 chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and violence survivors, including 62 in Nebraska, who advocate for policies proven through research to prevent crime and violence.