Iowa officials: Preschool can prevent prison - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa officials: Preschool can prevent prison

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WATERLOO (KWWL) - President Obama has introduced a proposal that would ensure access to quality early childhood education to all four-year-old children across the country.

A handful of local officials have publicly supported the proposal and agree that children who get a quality education are less likely to end up behind bars.

The Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office reports 17 percent of state prisoners do not have a high school diploma.

According to Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson, 7 out of 10 inmates in the U.S. do not have a high school diploma.

"These are troubling statistics, but I see the human toll day to day as the people that come through our doors can barely read, can barely write," said Thompson.

Black Hawk County Attorney Tom Ferguson said no child is destined at birth to end up in jail.

"The journey that brings many inmates to our city and county and state jails didn't happen overnight," said Ferguson."The path to school failure is often charted in the child's earliest years."

The earliest years start in preschool, according to five thousand members of law enforcement who support President Obama's proposal to educate every four-year-old in the U.S.

Those members are part of the group, "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids."

The group kicked off a campaign on Tuesday with rallies in dozens of cities across the country.

The group compiled statistics that show investing in a universal early childhood education program could reduce the number of Iowans in prison by more than 800, which would save the state approximately $38 million a year.

"We see all too often how demonstrative it is that a lack of education leads to a life of crime," said Thompson.

If passed, the proposal would cost about $75 million over the course of 10-years; according to Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, the country spends that same amount on federal, state and local jails in just one year.
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