17 Apr 2014 No Comments
Today I’m happy to share a well-written, thought-provoking article by Rebecca Gray…
Like snowflakes, no two criminals are alike. But their crimes share common threads; especially when viewed strictly in terms of the outcomes they provide. A loss is a loss, regardless of which criminal brings it upon a victim, so crimes, unlike criminals, are the same.
It isn’t as black and white as it’s portrayed there, but it does provide a strong argument for reserving our harshest disapproval for the crimes we encounter, rather than the criminals who commit them. Until the playing field evens out for all participants, society lends itself to criminal acts. In the meantime, we should continue striving to eliminate crime, rather than personalizing the revolving door of criminals that perpetrate them.
Social Disadvantage – Criminal enterprise is often born of need. Essential features of daily living elude so many members of modern society, it is reasonable to expect some people to abandon social mores, using criminal acts to acquire basic necessities. Until we address the imbalance of wealth across society, we will continue to set the stage for misdeeds, carried out by desperate members of social groups without access to the fundamental provisions required for successful life.
Unemployment, for example, fuels criminal activity, when well-intentioned members of society cannot land gainful employment. Instead, unemployed classes craft alternative ways to make ends meet, which sometimes lead to criminal behavior. Lowering unemployment levels is an essential first step toward furnishing the tools criminals need to reform. Judging criminals more harshly than their crimes does not foster a progressive environment for improvement, so it is the acts which should be condemned, rather than the disadvantaged members of society carrying them out.
Failures in Education – Creating opportunity lays a foundation for success, reducing the number of individuals turning to crime for sustenance. Job training, access to higher education, entrepreneurial coaching and other forms of guidance lead to successful outcomes, rather than criminal activity. Adequate public education provides a cornerstone of opportunity, breaking criminal patterns and placing kids on the right path early-on. Until we extend a guaranteed foundation of education evenly across society, criminal enterprise will prosper.
Wipe out Crime, Not Criminals – In order to address a given social issue, it is important to identify objectives and target them precisely. Corrections and criminal justice are prudent ways to reduce criminal incentives, but they aren’t always the most efficient ways to eliminate crime. Instead of focusing crime reduction efforts on incarceration and other penal practices, we must zero-in on the actual criminal acts. By targeting actual crimes, rather than perpetrators, we account for the bigger picture behind criminal activity. Opportunity and motive drive perpetrators to commit crimes, so removing them to the best of our ability helps eradicate crime. Too often, criminals are simply role-players in flawed systems, so a wider-angle approach is needed to combat crime.
Rehabilitation Failures – Recidivism is high among many classes of criminals, furnishing a first-hand look at rehabilitative failures. Criminals end up incarcerated because they lack education and opportunity to conduct legitimate lives. Once inside the criminal justice system, offenders need opportunities to make-up for the deficiencies that led them to commit crimes. Education, job training, apprenticeships, and post-release employment programs are key tools in the fight against repeat offenses.
Real Cost of Crime – The impact of crime on society is measured in terms of its actual value, rather than the arbitrary circumstances surrounding each criminal. As a result, our enforcement and crime reduction efforts should also look beyond particular perpetrators, accounting for the cost of actual crimes. While a single criminal has a lifespan, criminal acts have the potential to cycle through society over-and-over, exacting heavy tolls as crimes repeat themselves again-and-again.
Criminals are inextricably linked to the crimes they commit, but the acts stand on their own, in terms of how they impact society. Beyond the criminal justice system, alleviating crime needs to account for broader conditions, focusing on crimes as well as perpetrators.