Nebraska Law Enforcement Leaders: Quality Early Care and Education Would Reduce Future Crime

  • Nebraska has over 5,000 adults incarcerated in state prisons, and more than 1,000 in the Douglas County jail.
  • Nebraska spends more than $190 million yearly to incarcerate adults.
  • Nationally, seven out of 10 state prisoners nationwide do not have a high school diploma.

Lincoln Public Safety Director Tom Casady has called on lawmakers to expand high-quality early care and education to lower crime. Casady spoke on behalf of Nebraska’s 80 members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.

“Too many Nebraska kids are starting school without pre-literacy and pre-math skills and with behavioral problems that greatly inhibit their chance to succeed academically,” said Casady. “These kids stumble as classes become more challenging. Many of them drop out and take a detour into criminal activity. Research shows high-quality early care and education puts kids on a different course with a foundation for success right out of the starting gate.”

Nebraska State Senator Burke Harr joined Casady to release “I’m the guy you pay later,” a new report documenting research on the impact of quality early care and education on academic achievement and crime reduction. The report was authored by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a non-partisan anti-crime organization of nearly 5,000 law enforcement leaders. The report is part of a Fight Crime effort encouraging lawmakers to invest in quality early education to save significant taxpayer costs for crime and corrections.

The report spotlights the importance of brain development and language acquisition during the first five year of children’s lives, and promotes the value of coaching to help inexperienced parents create safe and supportive home environments. The report points to closing the “word gap” to help eliminate the gap in student achievement that emerges later when children enter school. A 2004 study showed that by age 3, children of professional parents had heard 30 million more words than children from low-income families, and their vocabularies were more than double those of low-income children. We know that children who start school behind often stay behind, and many never catch up to their peers.

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