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Saturday, 28 July 2012 10:53

Colorado massacre, campus shootings, flash mobs are symptoms that crime pays

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GUN2There is something terribly wrong in American society today.  It appears that all semblance of basic respect for one another’s person and property is lost.   Individuals believe they can do what they want, when they want, to whomever they want without regard for consequences.   


The horrid theater massacre in Colorado, multiple campus shootings, flash mobs breaking into stores and shopping malls, “Pick em out, knock em down” games where people are randomly assaulted for fun…some fatally, drive-by shooting where innocent bystanders are slaughtered…all reflect a careless disregard to the basic tenets of a civilized society.



We hear some argue that too many people are in prison.   No one would disagree with that statement.  However, one must ask… do these people belong in prison? The answer is YES!!!!  In fact, many more belong in prison. Crime is out of control! The fact that too many are incarcerated indicates social failure, not prosecutorial abuse.


The real problem is that our penal system is not working.  If an individual commits a crime and returns to the streets within hours, it sends a clear message.   Laws mean nothing!  They soon learn to have no fear of punishment for their actions, so they act as they please. Others follow the example. Witnesses and victims fear reprisals so they refuse to testify.  The criminal wins.  Ever read “Lord of the Flies”?


Worse, when some horrific crime occurs, seldom is the perpetrator held responsible for the action.    Somehow society is to blame.  “The Village” did not live up to IT’S responsibility in raising this person.  Society has wronged him.  By some twisted logic that explains his anti-social behavior.


NO!!!   This person is a predator and predators only fear becoming prey themselves.  If they operate in an environment where they have no fear of retribution, they do as they please.  Why, because crime is rewarding: immediate gain if successful…publicity, book contracts, and respect in their dysfunctional community should they get caught.  Going to prison was once considered a terrible mark on one’s reputation.  Today, it has become a sign of distinction.  It earns “respect”.   Therein lays the problem.


Crime has to have consequences and justice has to be swift!  All crime deserves punishment.  Juveniles and those who commit minor offences must perform community service work.  That means: cleaning schools and public buildings, cutting grass, picking up trash, working on road crews, etc.   There are many jobs that cities can no longer afford to pay to have done…offenders provide the perfect labor force. Use it!


For the more violent, bring back the chain gangs.  Highways need cleaning, trees planted, hard labor on construction sites.  Let them build their own facilities.


Work details provide the lesson of having to get up in the morning and labor. That teaches responsibility.  Regular citizens do it every day.  Furthermore, it pays back society for the costs of arrest, conviction and incarceration.  Hopefully, it can provide some basic job skills.  


Prisons have to be structured to rebuild the social being.  That means stripping away all elements of corrupt values and implanting constructive thinking.   The prisoner must come to accept responsibility for his actions and then plan to correct his life.  That can take as long as required.  No timed sentences.  Prisoners serve until behavior reflects an acceptance of society’s rules.  Shoplifting could be a life sentence; it’s the prisoner’s choice.  The prison’s responsibility is to foster this social development. The prisoner’s responsibility is to acknowledge society’s mores.  Merely warehousing people for set periods of time is counterproductive.


The education and skills learned must then be applied to some measure of restitution. Victims have rights too!    Louisiana spends $698 million in prison related expenses each year.  This does count the legal costs of arrest and prosecution!  Of that amount only $3.9 million is expended on education or vocational training.  Is there any wonder why the recidivism rate is so high?


In the late 1960s I spent much time interviewing Warden Falkenstein of Orleans Parish Prison.  He stated then that we spend more time educating prisoners to be criminals than we do trying to rehabilitate them.  I remember his words: “juvenile detention is grammar school, parish prison is high school, and Angola is college.”


At a time of high unemployment why would anyone hire an ex-con with no education, no skills, and lacking any sense of social values?  The incarcerated must work to pay their upkeep, repay society, and make restitution to their victims. They must also learn basic skills to become productive citizens.  Otherwise prison will forever remain a revolving door.


Crime is increasing because crime pays.  If this cycle is not broken, the criminal element will continue to grow.  The predator s and those who might think of following their path have to know that the consequences are not worth the risk.  


 It is time to get smart and tough on crime.  We need real reform.

by Ron Chapman






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