The mayor of Portland once said, “If you plan to cut recreation programs, you might as well plan on doubling the number of police and expanding prisons.” The average per diem costs of locking up one juvenile is $240.99 per day – around $88,000 a year, according to the American Correctional Association. Instead of getting into trouble with too much free time, what if the same child was enrolled in recreation programs all year long? If so, the child could:
Attend an after-school recreation program, take karate twice a week, ski all season, play league basketball three times per week, learn art on eight Saturdays, enroll in two weeks of tennis, do school holiday day camps, register for golf lessons, swim all summer, attend all the Northeast Youth Center kids camps, take canoe trips on the Little Spokane River and play baseball three times a week.
Instead of spending nearly $88,000 on incarceration, after paying for all of the above activities, we could return to you over $87,000, and one very happy kid. It costs a typical city about $37 per year per child in taxes to keep recreation programs alive. Don’t cut the recreation budget. Choose to value our children.
Barbara J. Brock