Report | November 17, 2017

Pre-K Key to Cutting Oregon Prison Costs and Boosting School Success

Our new report explores how Oregon can save $513 million by improving Pre-K quality and cutting crime

The U.S. spends nearly $75 billion a year to incarcerate adults in federal and state prisons or local jails. Although crime rates have fallen over the past 20 years, there are still 1.2 million violent crimes and 8 million property crimes committed against people in communities across America every year. Nationwide, seven out of 10 state prisoners do not have a high school diploma, and finding stable employment once they leave prison is very challenging.

Oregon experiences over 10,000 violent crimes annually, has almost 15,000 adults incarcerated in state prisons, and spends around 1.6 billion dollars on incarceration costs annually. Seven out of ten state prisoners nationwide do not have a high school diploma, and finding stable employment once they leave prison is very challenging. Oregon has the fourth highest high school dropout rate in the nation, at 26 percent, and its high school graduates earn an approximate $7,100 more annually compared to the state’s dropouts.

So how do we break this vicious cycle? By investing in early education.

Providing our children with high quality preschool and their teachers with professional development opportunities will ultimately decrease crime in years to come.

Sheriff Mike Reese, Multnomah County, OR

To provide youth with high-quality early care, their teachers must receive professional development support in order to sufficiently do their job. One study found preschool teachers who participated in an online professional development course and also received classroom mentoring graduated children with better language comprehension, more advanced phonological awareness, a larger vocabulary, and more letter knowledge than children in classrooms with teachers who received either none or less professional development support. Oregon must support such opportunities in order for teachers to excel and graduate competent children.

If Oregon continues to invest wisely in professional development for its teachers as well as quality preschool opportunities for its youth, thousands of children can become successful, productive adults, instead of individuals of wasted potential who too often cost taxpayers dearly. When we support what works for disadvantaged children, we put them on a safer path toward success.


  1. Oregon