High school dropouts, who are more likely to commit crimes than their peers with diplomas, cost California $1.1 billion annually in law enforcement and victim costs while still minors, says a study reported by the Los Angeles Times. The California Dropout Research Project at University of California Santa Barbara found that cutting the dropout rate in half would prevent 30,000 juvenile crimes and save $550 million every year.
“This study demonstrates the immediate impact dropouts have on both public safety and the economy,” said project director Russell Rumberger. “If California could reduce the dropout rate, it could subsequently reduce the juvenile crime rate and its staggering impact on the state budget.” Drop-out statistics are notoriously difficult to pinpoint, but nearly 19 percent of students don’t graduate from high school. In Los Angeles County, the figure is more than one in five, and at some L.A. schools, fewer than half of students graduate within four years.