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Police chiefs: spend more money now on early childhood programs & less later on prisons

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

A group of police chiefs and district attorneys is asking Congress to invest $75 billion over the next ten years on early childhood programs with proven success. The group says the investment will more than pay for itself in terms of reducing crime and prison costs.

The group says it’ll save money on prison costs in the long run.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller says the State of Michigan and the country is at a fork in the road; spend money now on early childhood development, or spend more money later in the corrections department.

Fuller says people have to convince policy makers to invest now.

“We have to make sure that they understand that we have real data. You know, we have real information that proves that this is a working model,” Fuller said.

A report released Monday by the national non-profit anti-crime group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, points to the successful Perry Preschool in Ypsilanti as one model. The report (read the full report here) says Michigan alone could save over $200 million a year if that model is expanded.

“We have real models in areas that have real issues that work. And is we could take those numbers and spread it across the State of Michigan or across this great nation – look at the money we would save; look at lives we would save,” Fuller said.

The proposal is being drafted in the Senate, organizers said, but no one has taken it up in the House yet. Congressman Fred Upton says he’s reviewing the proposal, but added that the “stats are pretty revealing.”

“I know the president talked a little bit about this in his State of the Union address at the beginning of the year. We’ve been consumed with lots of different issues and this is one that seems like it really could have bi-partisan support to move forward and I look forward to being a productive member of that,” Upton said.

This year state lawmakers boosted funding by $65 million dollarsto pay for more low income four year olds to go to preschool in Michigan.

As my colleague Jen Guerra with State of Opportunity reported this summer, it's not really news that preK pays off.

High-quality preschool makes a difference. Actually, that's hardly breaking news. Study after study after study that has shown the benefits of high-quality preK, particularly for disadvantaged students.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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