Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Connection between Third Graders and Future Prison Inmates

It is shocking to think that a child who can't read by the third grade is a prime candidate for becoming a prison inmate. But looking at the reading levels of elementary school students might very well become a reliable way to predict the number of potential criminals in the future.

The idea of using reading proficiency to predict criminality was shared by East Palo Alto's Police Chief Ron Davis on the most recent episode of the Talking with Henrietta show, titled "The Fight Against Crime: Is It Working?"

On the show, Davis quoted statistics provided to him by David Lewis, one of the founders of Free at Last, an East Palo Alto nonprofit agency that works with parolees. The statistics showed that, compared to other third grade students in San Mateo County schools, only 10 to 25 percent of East Palo Alto third graders are reading at or above the 50th percentile mark.

Unfortunately, current research shows that those who cannot read are more at risk -- than their counterparts who can read -- for winding up in prison.

If this sad correlation between the inability to read by an early age and future imprisonment is true, then the educational priority for the East Palo Alto school district and school districts throughout the country is clear: make sure all students can read by the third grade.

Certainly, this would be a cost-effective and surefire way to reduce the prison population in the future.

To see Chief Ron Davis make the connection between reading levels and incarceration in a video excerpt from the show, click on the video below. Go here to get more information about the entire one hour discussion on "The Fight Against Crime: Is It Working?" You can post your views on the subject below.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Funding for Domestic Violence Shelters - A Necessity

In the State of California, October is recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is encouraging that California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger chose this month to restore funding to domestic violence shelters throughout the state.

Due to the state's budget shortfalls and the cutbacks in state funding several shelters have all ready closed. Now with statewide funding to domestic violence shelters restored, it is possible that these shelters might reopen.

Just a few years ago, the California Research Bureau reported that there were 197,000 domestic violence calls received by law enforcement agencies throughout the state. The bureau's report stated that more than 51,000 people were arrested and domestic violence incidents resulted in 197 homicides.

Given the fact that a downturn in the economy can lead to increased family stress and an increase in domestic violence, it is not surprising that law enforcement officials are currently reporting an increase in domestic violence calls not only in California but also in the nation as a whole. So, this is certainly not a time to short change social services within the state, especially in an area as critical as domestic violence, where it can be an issue of life or death. Many political observers can give a multitude of reasons why Schwarzenegger can be criticized, but the fact that the governor restored money to domestic violence shelters is one act for which he should be applauded.

You can read more about the restoral of state funding to shelters by going here

Click here and scroll to the third picture description to get information about a recent Talking with Henrietta show called Protecting Women Against Violent Crime that discussed domestic violence locally.