The Intelligencer: LTE: Educate or Incarcerate Event
June 11, 2018

I want to recognize Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub, Capt. Milligan, Sheriff Milton Warrell and state Rep. Bernie O’Neill for leading an important community meeting on early childhood education.

At this meeting, Mr. Weintraub presented a new report from the anti-crime organization, Fight Crime: Invest In Kids. The report documented that Pennsylvania’s future prison population can be trimmed down considerably — while yielding almost $150 million in societal benefits over students’ lifetimes — if the governor’s $40 million proposed pre-K investment is included in the final 2018-19 state budget. This funding increase would serve 4,440 more at-risk children.

These cost savings are believable when you consider that Pennsylvania’s state and local governments spend roughly $3.2 billion per year incarcerating adults, or about $43,000 per inmate in the state corrections system. Mr. Weintraub noted that education attainment is often the deciding factor between productive, contributing citizens and those that find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He also discussed a new survey conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections of all incoming male inmates during the month of January 2018 that showed nearly 40 percent of incoming state prisoners did not graduate from high school. Nationwide that figure climbs to 60 percent.

Additionally, the survey showed that difficulty reading in elementary school was a substantial indicator of future juvenile criminal behavior. Inmates that experienced this difficulty were 14 percent more likely to be arrested as a juvenile compared to those who said they did not have early reading difficulty. As an early childhood education provider with three centers in three counties, I appreciate the support of law enforcement. Their argument is powerful — we need our youth to be educated, not incarcerated, and that process starts early. I hope the legislature again prioritizes pre-K in the final budget.

Nicole Fetherman, executive director,

LifeSpan School & Day Care

Read the Letter here.