Report | February 1, 2017

Police: I’m the Guy You Pay Later

Law enforcement leaders support high-quality early education in order to cut crime and prison costs

Across the country, law enforcement leaders have joined the refrain of I’m the Guy You Pay Later. This means invest now in high-quality early childhood care and education or pay more for the costs of future crime. That’s why Fight Crime: Invest in Kids has released state reports in Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington. These reports highlight data showing the high cost of corrections in each state, and how much each region could save by investing in high-quality preschool and home visiting programs. Read the latest report from Washington (PDF).

The U.S. spends nearly $75 billion a year to incarcerate adults in federal and state prisons or local jails. For example, Washington state spends $1.1 billion. Arkansas could save $725 million in prison costs by improving the quality of pre-K. Suffice to say, the correlation is clear: As a society, we can either invest in early education now, or pay much more for corrections later.

Reaching kids early – before they drop out of school and become involved in crime – is one of the best ways to keep people out of our jails.

Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy, President, Illinois Sheriffs’ Association