Monday, January 21, 2008

Crime and Punishment

2.2 million people in prison.

That’s likely a part of the decline in crime in America, but how much longer can we keep it up? How many more prisons can we build? How many more guards can we hire? And how many more families can we disrupt?

A huge percentage of our prisoners are drug addicts.

I can't help but feel that all of this is rooted in poverty. Sure, there are other causes, and lots of good kids from good families go the dark side of life.

But in every study, poverty is a mean soup cooking away the souls of millions of people who grow up without hope, without morality, without any sense of achievement or self-confidence.

“Lock ‘em up!” can only be a temporary fix, and then what? What happens when they’re released? Prisons get folks off the street, but prisons are also a breeding ground for new criminal relationships, where the young learn from the old, and souls are hardened by brutality.

We have to put people to work, we have to have major public transportations systems in place so people get to work, we need child-care provisions, and we need the resolve to really fix it.

Will we ever eliminate crime? Of course not.

But can we attack and eliminate some of its most profound causes?

Yes! We’ve done it before under Roosevelt and Johnson. We’ve done it before when our nation embraced a social conscience that recognizes just how inter-dependent we all are, and we are “our brother’s keeper.”

Compassion is the clue!

Millions of Americans are compassionate, and let’s pray that a groundswell of compassion will ignite the fires of social reform. We’ve done it before. We can do it again!