Pennsylvania District attorneys urged state and federal lawmakers to increase funding for early education programs for at-risk children in an effort to boost high school graduation rates and reduce the prison population, reported the Pottsville Mercury.
“We can continue with the status quo, which is leading too many people to failure in school, involvement in crime and incarceration at huge cost to Pennsylvania taxpayers,” said Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan, standing in front of the State Correctional Institution in Chester. “Or we can take a different course, leading more kids to success in school, increased high school graduation and savings to taxpayers for years to come.”
Whelan said that in Pennsylvania, $1.9 billion is spent each year to house approximately 50,000 prison inmates. In Delaware County alone, he said, it costs taxpayers about $45 million to fund Delaware County prison.
Whelan, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams, Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan and Cumberland County District Attorney David J. Freed, president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, spoke at the event sponsored by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids organization.
Williams called on lawmakers to support President Barack Obama’s proposal to spend $75 billion over the next 10 years on early childhood education, as opposed to spending $75 billion every year to house prisoners.
“This report demonstrates that every $100 invested in early childhood education will save us $700 in prison costs here in Pennsylvania,” Williams said. “This building behind me is a temple, a testimony of what the failure to invest in education will get you.”
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