Crime Philosophy

Posted August 13th, 2007 @ 3:05 AM by

So, with the recent troubles on the Southwest side of Madison and the outpouring of neighborhood concern, it’s got me thinking about solutions to crime. While I haven’t extensively studied the issue, judging from reading a wide-variety of news sources, we have to focus on one thing: strategies that work. Now, this might seem obvious in theory, but it’s not obvious in reality. Why? Because our first instinct when we hear about crime is to come down ridiculously hard on the criminals. On a personal note, I classify myself as a progressive. I have a degree in Political Science, so I can back up my positions with facts, figures and philosophy. But on an emotional level, I’m a progressive because I hate injustice. When I read about an injustice or when I see an injustice, I have a negative gut reaction. This is the root of my progressivism. Crime is an injustice. When someone is beaten, murdered, mugged, raped that’s an injustice. When reasonable people are afraid to walk their own neighborhood, that’s an injustice. So it’s easy for me to fall into the “lock-everyone-up” mindset. So should we start locking people up for long periods of time for minor crimes? Maybe it wouldn’t exactly be fair, but at least it would make us safer, right? Well probably not:
Report says anti-gang strategy should focus on intervention (quoted from the article):

A new report says anti-gang legislation and police crackdowns are failing so badly that they are strengthening the criminal organizations and making US cities more dangerous.

The lock ’em up strategy simply turns jail into Gang University where criminals can become hardened. There must be a focus on reforming offenders and preventing crime through community intervention and by working to mitigate the effects of poverty. An anti-crime strategy must be more than just law enforcement:
Local [Memphis, TN] anti-crime efforts model for organizations across country :

programs that reach out to at risk youth present and former gang members and formally incarcerated person. That’s anywhere from removing gang graffiti to relating to gang people getting them out of gangs

That’s not to say that law enforcement has no part to play in all this. The far West side of Madison needs to receive more attention from law enforcement…and quickly. As Eugene Kane captures eloquently in this interview with the mythical “Few-who-ruin-it-for-everyone” article, some people simply don’t care and there isn’t a way to reach them (regardless of race – the article is focused on race, but the overriding point applies to people of any race).
They’re the few, and they haven’t got a clue

Q. What is it going to take to reach out to you guys in order to be hopeful about the future?

A. “Why do you want to reach us? Like you said, we’re the dropouts, the ones without good parents, the ones who don’t really think much about the future beyond the next day. Plus, we can get all the guns we want. What good do you think reaching out to us is going to do?”

Q.So, it’s hopeless?

A. “Not as long as we’re the few. When we become the many, that’s when you will really have problems.”

So what can we do as citizens? Get involved, contact your alder and the Mayor. Also:

Blown away by the response Wednesday, neighborhood leaders already have another meeting planned for Sept. 5 also at St. Maria Goretti School. Many people who wanted to speak Wednesday didn’t have a chance during the 90-minute session.

…from Problems don’t solve themselves – nor can we merely rely on law enforcement to work solve this problem. It’s got to be a complete effort.

Categories: | Crime | Crime Prevention | Madison

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