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Investing Early in Children Is Sound Strategy for Cutting Corrections Costs

Nebraska would save $25,419 in victim, court and incarceration costs for every child enrolled in full-day, center-based early childhood education programs, says the University of Nebraska‒Lincoln’s Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS).

A recent CYFS study found that children who participate in high-quality early childhood education programs in Nebraska are 8.2% less likely to be arrested for a juvenile crime and 5.73% less likely to be arrested for an adult crime later in life.

Average annual victim costs for active criminals are $460,000. The annual average for court costs is $4,600 in years when criminals are active. Additionally, the average annual incarceration cost per prisoner is $47,000.

Today the Nebraska Legislature’s Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on LB832. If passed, the bill would change laws relating to reductions in prison sentences for good-time served. Governor Heineman requested the bill, in part to deal with the challenges created by corrections spending, prison overcrowding and the early release of violent offenders.

Early childhood education should continue to be a part of the conversation as Nebraska leaders look for viable long-term solutions to increasing corrections budgets and overcrowded prisons.

(Source: Knoche, L., Rosenbaum, D., & Thompson, E. (2013, August). Measuring the impacts and returns from early childhood education and programming in Nebraska. Lincoln, NE: Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools.)

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