Law-enforcement officials visit State Capitol to support childhood programs

Members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national anti-crime organization of police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys and victim advocates with 400 members in California and close to 5,000 members nationwide, visited the State Capitol last week to urge legislators and administration officials to support evidence-based programs proven to keep children in school and away from crime.
Signal Hill Police Chief Michael Langston and other Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California members participated in individual meetings with over 20 key policymakers and administration officials.
“Our greatest opportunities to prevent crime and reduce the recidivism rate are to not let our children get involved in criminal activity in the first place,” Langston said. “Every dollar we invest in early education can provide $7 or more in benefits, primarily from reduced crime. Keeping kids in school is equally important to this objective, as dropouts are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than high-school graduates.”
Langston said he went to Sacramento to support early education and dropout-prevention legislation. “These evidence-based programs are, in my mind, the programs that will eventually help state prison realignment work,” he said. “The only difference is that these programs are preventative rather than rehabilitative. This was put in to perspective for me when I heard one of my colleagues, a county sheriff, talk about building secure facilities to provide social services within the county jail, including educational services. Too many inmates cannot read or write.”
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California State Director Brian Lee said that getting kids prepared for success in school and then keeping them in the classroom and on track to graduate are two of the most effective ways to keep streets and communities safe. “We’re fortunate to have so many law-enforcement leaders and victim advocates as members who recognize this and work to support policies and funding for programs that help keep kids off the streets and away from crime,” he said.
Members of the organization called on legislators from both sides of the aisle to increase state funding for programs scientifically proven to steer kids away from crime, such as high-quality early education and dropout prevention strategies that address truancy and chronic absence, according to the organization. It is estimated that a 10-percentage-point increase in high-school graduation rates would reduce violent crimes by 20 percent and could prevent 400 murders and 20,000 aggravated assaults.
Research shows that kids who receive high-quality early education and care are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to ever become involved in crime, according to Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California, whose members asked lawmakers to support SB 837, a bill authored by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg that would make early education available to all 4-year-olds by expanding the state’s transitional kindergarten program.
The organization’s members also asked lawmakers to support AB 1866 (Bocanegra), which would help identify early warning signs for dropout by tracking school attendance in CALPADS, the state’s longitudinal student data system. California is one of just four states that does not tracked individualized school attendance.
For kids already involved in the juvenile-justice system, intensive family therapies, such as functional family therapy (FFT) and multisystemic therapy (MST), have been shown to cut re-arrests by as much as 50 percent, according to Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. The Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction (MIOCR) program used to support these evidenced-based therapy programs, yet funding for the program was eliminated several years ago. Members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California also encouraged policymakers to support SB 1054 (Steinberg) which would restore the MIOCR program and provide $50 million for MIOCR grants, evenly divided between juveniles and adults.

Source: Fight Crime: Invest in Kids

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