Jeungeun May Seo
Date of Defense:
May 13, 2020
Background: High school performance and completion of high school have been shown to decrease the probability of criminal involvement. However, the effects of participation in quality education in early childhood have been less examined. This study assessed the relationship between preschool child-parent center (CPC) attendance and the risk of criminal justice involvement up to age 27 years.
Methods: Data was obtained from the prospective Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS) which included 1,465 participants followed from preschool age to 27 years (93% African American, 50% male, 76% living in poverty in school attendance area) who participated in preschool CPC programs in 1985-1986. Descriptive analyses, linear and logistic regressions were performed to assess the relationship of CPC attendance with self-reported history of juvenile delinquency, juvenile violent offense, arrest history, felony charges, incarceration, and age of first arrest up to age 27. Analyses were adjusted for sex, race, maternal employment, neighborhood poverty, and other potential confounders.
Results: 23.41% of the overall cohort reported they had ever been incarcerated. In covariate adjusted models, CPC participants were less likely to had ever been charged with juvenile delinquency (Odds Ratio [OR]: 0.62, p-value: 0.00, 95% CI: 0.47, 0.83), been charged with juvenile violent offense (Odds Ratio [OR]: 0.67, p-value: 0.02, 95% CI: 0.48, 0.94), been charged with a felony (Odds Ratio [OR]: 0.74, p-value: 0.04, 95% CI: 0.56, 0.99), and been incarcerated (Odds Ratio [OR]: 0.72, p-value: 0.02, 95% CI: 0.54-0.95) in comparison to non-CPC participants. Those who participated in the program were at approximately 20% less likely of having ever been arrested (Odds Ratio [OR]: 0.79, p-value: 0.06, 95% CI: 0.62-1.01), although the confidence interval included 1.0. There was also a significant reduction among CPC participant compared to non-CPC participants in the risk of early arrest (less than age 12) as compared to no arrest (Odds Ratio [OR]: 0.47, p-value: 0.01, 95% CI: 0.28-0.80).
Conclusion: CPC participation was associated with significantly lower likelihood of juvenile delinquencies, juvenile violent offenses, felony charges, incarceration. The results suggest that increased access to early childhood education could be an important element of criminal justice involvement prevention.
Keywords: Incarceration, early education, criminal justice system, African-American, Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS)