Law enforcement officials are pushing a new plan by educating kids before they turn to crime through early education pre-school programs. YNN's Katie Gibas reports.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- "No child is destined at birth to end up in Jail," said Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler.
John Balloni, the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office Civil Division Chief, said, "It's too late by the time they get here."
More than 2.3 million people are incarcerated in the United States. Taxpayers spend more than $75 billion every year to lock up criminals.
"We have to put dollars into incarcerating people. We know that. But so little is spent and so much is needed on the prevention," said Balloni.
Esteban Gonzalez, the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office Chief Custody Deputy, added, "We can't simply arrest and prosecute and incarcerate our way out of crime problems."
That's why law enforcement leaders and hundreds of people from "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids" are urging Congress to support the program aimed at funding early education preschool programs as a way to fight crime before it starts.
"The premise is that we can invest in early education now versus incarceration later. It's really that simple," said Jenn O'Connor, the Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Executive Director.
Rick Trunfio, an Onondaga County Assistant District Attorney, added, "School failures in early childhood lead to high school dropouts and criminal behavior. We know this. This is empirical data. Many of the inmates in this facility did not end up here overnight. Their pasts have been lined with a series of school and education failures starting in preschool."
Those in charge of "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids" say the proposal would cost $75 billion over ten years to increase the number of pre-k programs for low and moderate income 4-year-olds. It would also expand early childhood development programs for children from birth through age 3, including voluntary home visiting programs to help reduce neglect and abuse.
"Being abused and neglected almost doubles the odds that a child will become a victim of the criminal justice system by the time he turns 19, along with the victims he brings in as well," said Janice Grieshaber Geddes, The Jenna Foundation Retired Executive Director.
Law enforcement officials say not only would the program drop he number of people incarcerated here in New York by 6,500. It would also save about $282 million dollars every year in inmate costs.
"It has been said time and time again that crime doesn't pay. But like it or not, we all end up paying for crime. We need to take a smarter course for the sake of our kids today and the safety of our communities in the coming years," said Fowler.
Similar programs on a smaller scale have been tested and validated. For more information, head to www.fightcrime.org.