Pottstown Mercury: Area D.A.s Tout the Importance of Early-Education Programs to Prevent Crime

UPPER MERION – Spending money on pre-kindergarten programs now will inevitably save the taxpayers of Pennsylvania money in the long run when they are not paying as much to lock up criminals, according to a report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.

To drive that point home on Wednesday, District Attorneys Risa Ferman of Montgomery County, Seth Williams of Philadelphia, Jack Whelan of Delaware County, and Tom Hogan of Chester County, joined each other on stage at the Double Tree Hotel in King of Prussia to introduce the report dubbed “We’re the Guys You Pay Later.”

In short, the report states that much more money is spent on prosecuting defendants and locking them up in the county jails and state prisons than is spent on investing in education for children before Kindergarten.

“Pennsylvania jails are full of people serving time for serious and costly crimes. It doesn’t have to be that way – providing at-risk kids with high-quality early learning programs can reduce the costs and impact of crime in the future,” the report states.

Ferman said sending her three children to a high-quality preschool when they were younger sent them on the right path in life and society’s problems cannot be fixed by arresting people.

“Public safety is our primary concern as prosecutors and you know that we do that job and we lock people up when we need to. But what we know, perhaps more than anyone, is that we cannot arrest and prosecute our way out of the crime problem that we have. We have to look deeper,” Ferman said.

The report boasts that an investment in early childhood education now can save Pennsylvania taxpayers a total of $350 million in the future. Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget seeks to increase early childhood education funding by $120 million. That increase, according to the report, would allow for 14,200 additional children to take part in state-funded pre-k programs.

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