Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon wants Michigan to invest in education. “We’re all winners when we can see our kids in a cap and gown instead of an orange jumpsuit,” Napoleon said, joining other Detroit-area law enforcement officials to discuss the findings of a new study, “Cost Savings of School Readiness Per Additional At-Risk Child in Detroit and Michigan.”
The study suggests investing in early childhood education could save taxpayers millions by steering kids away from crime — and found that taxpayers save a lot of money when children are enrolled in early childhood education. According to the Detroit News, savings for taxpayers in the city are likely about $96,000 per child, and in the state overall, taxpayers would save $47,000.
That figure was derived from tallying cost savings to special education, child care subsidies, public assistance, the criminal justice system and crime victims, among other factors. Most of the savings would be from the criminal justice system, the study found.
Jose Diaz of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, which conducted the study, said, ”Investing in early education makes economic sense in a tangible way.” Echoing pro-pre-K mayors like New York’s Bill de Blasio and Boston’s Marty Walsh, Diaz added that kids who are prepared for kindergarten are better poised for successes later in life.
“We’ve tried everything, and my jails are still bursting at the seams,” Napoleon said. “It’s time to realize we can’t arrest and prosecute our way out of this problem.”
According to Napoleon, only 4 percent of prisoners in Michigan have a high school diploma.
Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.