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EDUCATION AND SAFETY: New Brief Suggests Connection Between Educational Attainment and Crime, Public Safety

States that invest more resources in education tend to have lower violent crime and incarceration rates, according to a new research brief published by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI). Titled Education and Safety, it is the first in JPI’s series of four briefs that will focus on the effects of positive social investments on public safety.

Released August 31, the brief highlights research regarding educational attainment in relation to crime and safety. It concludes that “there is no silver bullet that will guarantee reductions in criminal activity or crime rates, [but] the research suggests that increased investments in quality education can have a positive public safety benefit.”

JPI reports that an increase in graduation rates may have a positive impact on crime reduction, citing a study by the American Economic Review which finds that a one-year increase in the average years of schooling completed leads to a 30 percent decrease in violent crime. The brief also emphasizes the findings that a 5 percent increase in the male high school graduation rate would lead to approximately $5 billion in annual savings related to crime expenses, a figure that was originally published in the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Saving Futures, Saving Dollars brief in August 2006.

JPI also determined that the ten states with the highest percentages of residents that reported having at least a high school diploma had lower violent crime rates on average than the ten states with the lowest educational attainment (about 385 violent crimes per 100,000 people, compared to about 488 per 100,000). States with the highest college enrollment rates were also more likely to have lower violent crime rates (an average of 276 per 100,000, compared to 440 per 100,000 in the states with the lowest enrollment rates). Additionally, the ten states with the greatest increases in higher-education spending between 2000 and 2005 experienced an average decrease in violent crime of almost 7 percent, whereas the ten states that increased their higher-education spending by the least amount in the same time frame saw a 1 percentincrease in violent crime.

The brief emphasizes the fact that communities of color are disproportionately plagued by high risk of incarceration and lower educational attainment. “As the educational prospects of most Americans improved, the prison system continues to be filled with people who suffer from the disparities in education systems,” the report reads, going on to state that imprisonment has been found to interrupt education and employment, thereby leading to the disenfranchisement of these individuals from their communities and an increase in crime.

The Justice Policy Institute brief can be found at
http://www.justicepolicy.org/content.php?hmID=1811&smID=1581&ssmID=61.

Saving Futures, Saving Dollars: The Impact of Education on Crime Reduction and Earnings is available here.

 

Applications Now Being Accepted for Innovations in American Government Award 

Harvard University is accepting applications for its Innovations in American Government Award. Administered by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Innovations Award is given annually to programs that serve as examples of creative and effective government at its best.

All units of government—federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial—are eligible to apply. Winners will receive a $100,000 grant to support replication and dissemination activities. The application deadline is October 15, 2007.

Applications and additional information are available at http://www.innovationsaward.harvard.edu.

 

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