I could hardly believe it when I heard it:
Many states project future prison beds based on current fourth grade reading levels.
Our time has taught us much in the short eight months we’ve been engaged with this community. Poverty is strongly linked to illiteracy, and illiteracy is strongly linked to crime.
I’m indebted to Curtis Honeycutt and his article “Read or Go to Jail” for the following statistics:
When the states of Arizona and California project how many prison beds they will need, they factor in the number of kids who read well in fourth grade. Evidence shows that children who do not read by third grade often fail to catch up and are more likely to drop out of school, take drugs, become pregnant out of wedlock or go to prison. So many nonreaders wind up in jail that Arizona and California officials have found they can use the rate of illiteracy to help calculate future prison needs (Wonder of Reading).
60% of urban school children do not graduate from high school. 40% of those who do read at only a 4th grade level.(Edu-Cyberpg)
The Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level. (Begintoread.com)
So, what’s the moral of this story? Mentoring and tutoring kids (especially in reading) can directly lead to a decrease in crime over time.
Who can make a difference? Anyone who can read and has 45 minutes a week to spare.
How can you make a difference? Robin Crosby, director of Campus Clubs in Macon, says that if every child had a reading buddy (someone who is willing to spend 45 minutes a week with a child working on reading skills) the result could be astounding.
A few of my friends and I are seeing slow but satisfying progress in the reading skills of our little friends. Project the weekly investment of 45 minutes of your time down the road. Imagine that child beating the odds of his neighborhood and graduating from high school, getting a job and making a living, having a healthy self esteem and staying out of prison. That could well be the result of the grace of God and your weekly 45 minute investment.
Go ahead. Picture it.
There are not many better contributions you could make toward changing a life, a home, a street, a neighborhood, a city, a state and our country. And the beauty is that it’s easy, often fun and richly rewarding.
Can’t beat that!
For more information, visit www.campusclubsmacon.org.