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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A report by an anti-crime organization calls for an investment in early childhood education as a way to keep more people out of prison.
The report from the organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is titled, "I'm the Guy You Pay Later," with "the Guy" depicted as law enforcement and the prison system.
Louisville Metro Department of Corrections Director Mark Bolton says in the report, "Many of the inmates in jails could have avoided a life of crime. By addressing academic and behavioral problems through early education and care, we can prepare every child to make a valuable contribution to society."
The report cites a study done in Chicago that found that children who took part in pre-school and parent coaching programs were 20 percent less likely to be arrested for a felony.
The report says the nation spends $75 billion every year on corrections. A state and local partnership proposed by President Obama would spend the same amount for education over a period of ten years. Proponents of the educational program say it would pay for itself by reducing the number of people in prison.
The report says Kentucky, which spends more than $480 million a year on corrections, would save $48 million.
"Day after day, when I walk around this facility," Bolton said in a Tuesday news conference, "we see people that are in and out, in and out, in and out of jail. The troubling part about that is that they also have kids. And they're passing on that legacy to their kids that a life of crime, not being educated, not being in school repeats that pattern."
The report points out in early childhood, from birth to age five, children undergo rapid brain development, and that early experiences "play a large role in determining how brain connections are formed and in the 'wiring' that becomes the foundation on which all later learning is built."
A graphic in the report called "A Fork in the Road" shows on its left side, "Current Path with Bad Results," including children who aren't spoken to or read to enough and who are often neglected. The result, according to the graphic: "More crime more prisoners."
On the right side, the graphic shows, "Better Path with Proven Results," including helping parents learn how to encourage their children's development, and providing high-quality early care and education. The result, the graphic says, is "More graduates more productive adults."
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is an organization of more than 2,500 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, and crime victims. Over 1,000 of its members have written a letter to Congress urging it to work with the Obama Administration to enact the "I'm the Guy You Pay Later" proposal.
90 percent of the money for the program would come from the federal government, but the individual states would control how it was used.