Idaho Correction Director Brent Reinke is on the Criminal Justice Commission and previously spent a decade running the Department of Juvenile Corrections.
"I saw many kids pass through that system that had parents that were incarcerated," he said. "Unfortunately, many of those young people are now in prison. It's kind of a revolving door."
In an attempt to break that cycle in Idaho, the director for the state Department of Health and Welfare, Dick Armstrong, used $30,000 in federal money to pay for two small, two-year pilot programs at schools in Vallivue and Boise districts.
"We hope that by getting these kids early, they can escape that 'cradle to prison pipeline,'" said Ross Mason, Region 4 director at the Department of Health and Welfare. "These kids can see that life goes on without both parents around."
He said absenteeism is higher among those students, so the program takes aim at that problem.
"If we can get the kids to school, we think the academics will improve," Mason said. "If the academics improve, we think the behavior improves. That's the hypothesis."
He said the pilot programs might become part of a request to lawmakers to pay for more such programs. He said the cost would be $3,000 annually per school with a dozen students taking part at each school.
"The payoff is that the child who might have followed mom or dad's footsteps to prison might not," he said.
Information from: Idaho Statesman, www.idahostatesman.com