Blog | June 24, 2021

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids 25th Anniversary - Law Enforcement Makes the Case for Afterschool Programs

In 1997, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released its first Primetime for Juvenile Crime report

In 1997, facing congressional and state legislation that was aimed at toughening juvenile crime laws as juvenile crime was spiking, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids made the argument that instead of getting tougher on juvenile crime, we should invest in programs that can curb crime before it happens.

When Fight Crime: Invest in Kids President Sandy Newman learned from Winston-Salem, NC Police Chief George Sweat, a founding member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, that his juvenile arrests records show that juvenile crime spikes at 3pm when kids get out of school, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids teamed up with James Alan Fox, dean of Northeastern University’s College of Criminal Justice, to develop a report, The Prime Time for Juvenile Crime, arguing that the problem to our juvenile crime problem stemming from too little adult supervision and decreased availability of constructive activities, partly because of community cutbacks on spending for music, recreation and sports programs.

Using juvenile arrest data collected by the FBI from several states, the report showed that juvenile arrests peaked between the hours of 3-6pm during the weekday, right after the school let out. The report argued that instead of implementing curfews on youth and increasing penalties for juvenile crime, we should “provide students with quality after-school programs, and constructive recreational and community service activities” to reduce juvenile crime.

The report, was released with then-Attorney General Janet Reno and several other law enforcement leaders and crime survivors, received extensive media coverage - over 25 million media impressions. The voices of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members, along with other partners including the Afterschool Alliance, helped create bipartisan support for afterschool programs that eventually led to Congress expanding the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center program - the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to supporting local afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs - from $40 million to $1 billion in 2001. The program now serves nearly 2 million students nationwide and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members still speak out in support of these critical investments in our nation’s youth.


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