Early childhood education key to avoiding jail later in life

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, October 17, 2013

What’s the difference between 3- and 4-year-olds in a structured preschool at a Jackson daycare and many of the criminals at the Hinds County Detention Center?

The first group is getting the chance at early childhood education, and statistics show they are much more likely not to end up behind bars than those who lack those early lessons.

That’s one reason why Hinds County Sheriff Tyrone Lewis is joining with the national advocacy group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids to push Congress to pass a $75 billion proposal that would provide states including Mississippi with resources to create, strengthen, and expand quality state preschool to serve low- to moderate-income 4 year-olds nationwide.

It’s not a new mantra in Mississippi, where legislators earlier this year created a phased-in, voluntary prekindergarten program for 4-year-olds. Initially, the legislation called for $8 million for the first year, but the Legislature only appropriated $3 million for prekindergarten for the current budget year.

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