April 8, 2008

How To Be Tough On Crime

Crime is behavior, so one must be tough on the behavior. But being mean to criminals and temporarily banishing them to haphazard cruelty in prison is just that same kind of anti-social behavior. Discipline - relentlessly kind, firm and consistent correction of behavior - is instead in order.

Most people's dominant feeling about crime is natural fear of violent crime. Unfortunately, many lack a rational understanding of the differences between violent crime and property crime, both legal and statistical. For example, few realize that both perpetrators and victims tend to share the demographics of poverty, youth, and masculinity. Nor that most criminals who have guns get them to protect themselves.

And it can be hard for youth to find good role models. Our country was the violent, pre-emptive aggressor in the war with Iraq, but national leaders don't know how to back down and be respectful and peaceful. Moreover, economic insecurity and rampant unfairness suggest that the comfortable people don't care about anyone else either so what goes around comes around. It's also worth noting that malnutrition can make people act out and commit crimes.

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