Report | February 17, 2017

Maine Police: We're the Ones You Pay Later

Maine sheriffs, chiefs, and prosecutors urge policymakers to cut crime by investing in high-quality early education and care

Maine’s jails are full of people serving time for serious and costly crimes. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Providing at-risk kids with high-quality early learning opportunities through pre-kindergarten, Head Start, home visiting, and child care programs can reduce the human and fiscal costs of crime in the future.

Currently, Maine has one of the lowest crime rates in the country. Still, Maine spends $188 million on corrections each year to house about 2,100 adults in state prisons. Forty-one percent of state prisoners in Maine do not have a high school diploma or GED.

The path to crime starts with dropping out of high school. For many children, those academic and behavior problems show up before they even enter kindergarten.

Michael J. Sauschuck, Chief of Police, Portland

Fortunately, research shows that when children attend high-quality pre-K, it leads to better academic and social outcomes. Voluntary home visiting programs start even earlier, working with at-risk parents during pregnancy and infancy to foster their child’s development and prevent child abuse and neglect.

However, only 42 percent of 4-year-olds in Maine are enrolled in the state’s Public Preschool Program (PPP) or Head Start. Expanding pre-K would save Maine more than $69 million for each graduating class of preschoolers.


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