This is a highly complex issue because many factors are involved that cause it to be high, and just “cracking down” and getting tougher on criminals (popular theme of politicians) is insufficient in itself. We need to more closely examine the root causes of crime, and then make a stronger effort towards crime prevention. Some of the causes are obvious, but often problems remain because we talk about what we ought to do --- and either don’t do anything or don’t do near enough.
We need to do a much better job at educating and preparing our young people for adulthood. The minimum that we must do is to provide the opportunity for our young people to be successful. We need to invest more, not less, in our schools and teachers. After school programs should be offered at every school, and if parents need help -- then they should be able to attend as well.
Investing in our young people, and offering assistance to parents in order to better support their children will lower crime. Besides, it’s simply the right thing to do.
Another right thing to do is to reach out more, especially to our young people who have gotten into trouble, but not yet committed a violent crime. In Los Angeles County, the doors at the juvenile halls are revolving doors with kids leaving and returning. Eventually, many of these kids end up in our prisons.
One of the problems is that when a kid leaves the juvenile system, he often has no direction. He goes back to his gang, back to selling and using drugs---and if he doesn’t end up dead, he again enters the “revolving” door where he is welcome in the eyes of probation and education department heads because each individual in the system has an assigned dollar value. More individuals in the system entitle the department to a larger, fatter budget.
We have to put in place a better, more effective tracking system that follows up on a kid’s “progress” once he leaves the juvenile system. There should be cooperation, communication and coordination between various government departments and a child’s parents or guardians so that an individualized plan is drawn for a young person that leads to success upon returning to school and beyond.
Some people’s reactions are that all of this would cost too much. My answer to that is that we, the taxpayers, are going to pay one way or another. We can keep things the way they are and build more prisons, or challenge ourselves with our time, devotion and dollars towards guiding our young people into opportunities where they can grow and prosper.
Now, for those individuals who have crossed the line and commit violent crimes, I’m all for tough sentencing. I believe in trying to help people, but I also believe society has a right to protect itself. My heart and compassion especially goes out to victims of violent crimes, and their families. Lives and suffering should not be trivialized by handing out unjustly light sentences or allowing an aggressor to walk.
We have to be particularly harsher when it comes to hate and sex crimes. We’ve all heard the term “repeated sex offender.” Communities are often worried because they have sex offenders living amongst them. I don’t think communities should have to worry about repeated sex offenders. We need to lock them up and destroy the key. Period.
Now, I know some of my liberal friends will strongly disagree with that. I think one should look at the big picture here. Repeat sex offenders too often repeat their sex offense upon release from prison. I know how I would feel if the victim were my wife or daughter -- very angry at the government.
This whole discussion about the Catholic priests is ridiculous. It’s simple. Molesting boys is against the law. One can hope that the church will properly address the matter, but the government has a responsibility to lock up anyone who is found guilty of molesting a child.
Finally, I am opposed to the death penalty. This is a change in position for me. There are times when someone is obviously guilty of committing a heinous murder or rape/murder and my feeling is that that individual should be executed, if for any other reason, for the protection of prison employees and other jailed convicts.
The problem is that there are too many cases where there was some question as to the person's guilt or innocence. In fact, many people across our country who had been on death row were later found to be innocent.
Case in point is Illinois. The republican governor of the state rightfully declared a moratoreum on the death penalty after college students for a class assignment used DNA to prove a number of death row inmates innocent.
Therefore, I must agree with Mike Farrell when he has said "Killing one innocent person is one too many."