Merced County DA pushes lawmakers for pro-kids, anti-crime measures

aibarra@mercedsunstar.comMarch 25, 2014 

Merced County District Attorney Larry D. Morse visited the state Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday to ask legislators to support programs proven to keep children in schools and away from crime.

Morse is a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national anti-crime organization of nearly 5,000 police chiefs, district attorneys, sheriffs and survivors of violence.

Morse, along with a select group of the organization’s members, spoke with legislators to discuss the benefits of adopting crime prevention-related bills that have statistically shown to help children succeed in school.

Lawmakers were asked to support Senate Bill 837, which would expand the state’s transitional kindergarten program to make early education available to all 4-year-olds. Morse and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California also asked legislators to support Assembly Bill 1866, which would track individualized school attendance and help identify early signs of dropping out.

This is not the first time Morse has advocated for crime prevention programs. Last year, he helped spearhead the creation of Merced County Project 10%, a program in which UC Merced students visit middle school classrooms and speak about the importance of graduating high school.

Since its creation, the program has reached about 5,000 eighth-graders in the county.

According to a statement released Tuesday, Merced County Project 10% was created in response to studies showing that a 10 percent increase in high school graduation rates in California would result in 400 fewer homicides and 20,000 fewer aggravated assaults each year.

Research performed by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids showed high school dropouts are eight times more likely to go to prison than high school graduates.

“Keeping kids in school at least through high school graduation improves not only the safety of our communities, but also our economic vitality as well,” Morse said. “Studies show high school graduates earn more money and consequently are better able to purchase goods and services which helps prime our local economies.”

Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or aibarra@mercedsunstar.com.

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