This op-ed piece makes a good point about studies which show the advantages of early education for children and lifestyle education for their parents.
We can clearly see that the penal system is not working to solve societal problems. The case for early intervention seems like a good economic trade off when pitted against the alternative cost for increased spending in the judicial and penal system.
The downside may be that interests entrenched in the profits to be made from inefficient and ineffective educational programs may get their teeth into the program and reduce the overall benefit we would see.
NYTimes: Do We Invest in Preschools or Prisons?