Six out of ten prisoners nationwide do not have a high school diploma. Lawmakers gathered at the State Corrections Institution in Albion today in support of expanding Pre-K to thousands of unserved kids.
Studies show a poor education leads to children making poor choices in their adulthood. In Erie County alone, 45 percent of eligible children do not have access to high-quality, publicly funded Pre-K.
PA Corrections Secretary John Wetzel at SCI Albion hosted northwest PA law enforcement leaders and members of ‘Fight Crime Invest in Kids’. A report at SCI Albion shows further state funding for early childhood education can reduce the number of inmates behind prison walls in Pennsylvania.
Wetzel says, “if a young, black kid in Pennsylvania drops out of school, [they have] a 70% likelihood of being incarcerated. 70%, I mean, education is the key to everything”.
Pennsylvania spends $3.2 million a year on incarcerating adults. Lawmakers want to reduce that amount. The report also suggests that more funding will boost high school graduation rates and lead to almost $150 million in societal benefits every year.
Governor Wolf has proposed a $40 million state funding increase for childhood education.
The President of United Way, Erie, Bill Jackson, says that a “high percentage of inmates do not have a high school diploma… There is a really high difference between children that attend quality Pre-K to get that right start and then succeed in school and those who don’t are much more likely to have these issues.”
Supporters are urging to prioritize this expansion for high-quality Pre-K programs as part of the 2018-2019 state budget.
Senator Dan Laughlin says, “If children are raised in poverty, they’re much more likely to wind up in prison and, you know, we can’t change all of society as far as that goes, but we can do a better job with educating our children and that’s proven to be physically responsible in the long run.”
Currently, around 2,044 kids in Erie County and 913 kids in Crawford County lack access to high-quality funded Pre-K.