Pa. DAs: If we don't pay for pre-K education now, we'll pay for jail terms later
Several district attorneys in Pennsylvania said Wednesday that they want the state to spend more on early childhood education.
From a podium placed in front of a state prison in Chester, five of the state's top prosecutors said investing in preschool programs could help reduce crime and save Pennsylvania tax dollars down the road.
"One way or another we're going to pay for at-risk kids," said Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed. "We can pay on the front-end by providing them a solid chance to succeed, or we can pay a lot more in the end for their failure just as we do to house the people in the building like the one behind me."
The Obama Administration wants to spend $75 billion for preschool programs over the next decade.
A report released this week by the group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, says that investment could, in the future, reduce Pennsylvania's prison population by 5,000 inmates each year. The drop would save an estimated $195 million annually.
The national anti-crime organization is asking the federal government to work with local governments to increase access to early childhood initiatives.
"We know one thing: If you set kids on the right path early in their lives, they have a better chance of staying on it. And that's what we want our government to invest in," said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman.
Fewer than 20 percent of all 3- and 4-year-olds in Pennsylvania have access to publicly funded pre-K programs.