JONESBORO -- Pay a little now or pay a lot later.
That's the dilemma when it comes to cutting kids' programs that attempt to prevent crime, according to Union County State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds.
"These programs are a key investment in reducing crime and they're a smart fiscal investment," Edmonds said. "We can spend a small amount of money now on educating our kids or we can spend a lot of money down the road for arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating people."
Edmonds, along with other Illinois prosecutors, police chiefs and sheriffs representing an anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois, met in March with state legislators to express concern over continued cuts in early childhood education programs.
He cited a Perry Preschool in Michigan study that showed children left out of preschool were five times more likely to have been arrested for drug felonies and twice as likely to have been arrested for violent crimes.
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According to the study, preschool programs save society $17 for every $1 invested.
"Anecdotally, we see these things everyday. We see these kids abused or neglected and in juvenile court, then in juvenile justice and ultimately in prison," Edmonds said.
"We know being educated doesn't stop all crime, but there are a lot of folks that end up starting out from behind and never really recover."
Redeploy Illinois, a program that provides intensive probation services as an alternative to incarceration in correctional faciltiies, is another program the anti-crime organization is seeking to preserve.
"We can spend a few thousand dollars in the probation services instead of tens of thousands of dollars to incarcerate them as adults," Edmonds said.
Edmonds admits the state is in a budget crisis, but he and other law enforcement personnel want to remind legislators how effective these programs are before they make difficult budget decisions.
"Obviously, they're facing a very tough fiscal situation and we acknowledge that," Edmonds said. "We're just asking when they make those tough decisions, they understand how valuable these programs are."