Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dem AG candidate says investing in kids now will prevent crime later

Posted By on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 1:41 PM

George Sheldon
As promised, Democratic Attorney General candidate George Sheldon has released the first of what he promises to be a series of position papers on his platform, this one on the importance of spending money on early-childhood programs as a tool to fight crime and make Florida safer.

"We need to get tough on the causes of crime,” Sheldon says in the document. “By the time someone is in the Juvenile Justice system or the prison system, it is much more difficult and expensive to change their patterns of behavior and rehabilitate them before they have served their sentences and return to society. Long sentences also put a huge burden on taxpayers. We have to interrupt the cycles of mistreatment of children, mental illness and substance abuse."

He says the most cost-effective way to do that is to "put more of our children on the right track at an early age,” something he says doesn't mean building costly new social programs.

Sheldon says that, if elected, he'll enlist private businesses, private non-profits, local communities and school systems in promoting early childhood development. He'll use the bully pulpit of the AG's office to elevate early childhood well-being to a prominent place in every state agency that connects to the issue. “We need to be smarter about our intervention with the children and families who need help,” Sheldon said.

Undoubtedly Sheldon brings his experiences as head of the Department of Children and Families for the last two years of Charlie Crist's tenure in office (2008-2011) to the issue.

Most recently he served in Washington D.C. as Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families in Washington, where his paper states the agency established higher standards for Head Start programs, and shut down lower performing Head Start programs, while he was there.

Sheldon is engaged in a battle with House Minority Leader Perry Thurston for the nomination for Attorney General that won't be settled until late August, unless one of the candidates drops out before then. It's the rare cabinet race where the Democrats have a choice of those who have already been in the public eye, unlike, say, the races for Agriculture Commissioner or Chief Financial Officer.

The winner will face incumbent Pam Bondi in the fall. Bondi is dominating both candidates in fundraising totals at this time.

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