Thursday, June 8, 2017
Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation Should Become a Priority Again!
Most people that rely on the mainstream media might not know it but there was an enormous amount of research dating back at least to the sixties that showed how to do a much better job reducing crime by addressing the root causes of crime.
The mainstream media hasn't been reporting it, but that research never ended and some people at the grassroots level learned from it; and even while the political establishment at the national level, and in many States, at the State level, were pushing get tough on crime policies that don't work, they continued addressing the root causes in some areas far better than others; and they've provided additional evidence about what works better.
Countries in Europe have also handled crime reduction very differently than in the United States and there is very little reporting in the mainstream media bout what they do differently and how it works but they have far lower violent crime and incarceration rates, and there is good reason to believe that the policies used in Europe and some areas in the United States are responsible for this.
Why is it so hard for many people to look at the areas with the lowest crime or other social problems and try to figure out what they might be doing right?
Would the vast majority of the public see how obvious it can be that this could help reduce many of our problems, whether it's crime, health care pollution or many other issues, if we had a media that actually reported on it?
I went into this more in a series of previous articles starting with Ignored evidence linking corporal punishment, poverty and crime grows and including Politicians increase crime; Grass roots efforts reduce crime; Politicians steal the credit which cites and experiment in Richmond, California to reduce crime that has what many people would consider shock value, that partly involves "Paying People Not to Kill" according to some articles. This is only part of the experiment that would be considered shocking to many people and it may not be the most important part but it has clearly had a lot of success for one reason or another.
Their murder rates have plummeted from a high of 45.9 per 100,000 in 2007 to 10.1 in 2014 which is still much higher than average but it has demonstrated that even in some of the worst abandoned inner cities community activism can make an enormous difference. Most other crime in Richmond has also gone down dramatically except theft which is stable and rape which has risen.
Boston is now conducting a similar experiment, as indicated below and Marie Gottschalk also points out how the United States has done things very different from Europe and that there are some differences within the country in the following excerpts from her book "Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics," including the "root causes approach," which means finding the causes of crime and preventing them, which should be an incredibly obvious and non-controversial way of reducing crime:
Europe, which provides much more services for former inmates and also provides better health care, child care and education has a much lower murder and incarceration rate than the United states according List of countries by intentional homicide rate Murder Rates Nationally and By State at DPIC and Comparison of United States incarceration rate with other countries. Almost all other developed countries including Europe, Australia, Canada, Greenland, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea have much lower murder rates and all have much lower incarceration rates than the United States.
The mainstream media provides almost no coverage of the best research on crime reduction; instead providing only one solution in a high profile manner, punishment as a deterrent, with very little discussion about how improved education child care or rehabilitation efforts that have been abandoned since the Kennedy and Johnson administrations attempted to address these issues. Since then both Republicans and Democrats have been promoting get tough on crime policies, including the death penalty, which don't reduce reduce crime nearly as much as addressing the root causes of crime.
Gottschalk claims that the incarceration rates can be cut dramatically without relying solely on reducing the root causes of crime which may take a long time; however it should be clear that the root causes also need to be reduced as well if we hope to reduce violence not just the incarceration rates.
I’m sure Gottschalk recognizes this but focuses on the incarceration rate since, with enough political pressure it should be possible to reduce that faster while it will take more time to improve child care and education along with other programs that reduce the root causes of crime in some areas, where they haven’t gotten started yet.
In the seventies when we were at the height of the cold war one of the reasons that we were taught that made us so much better than the USSR was that they incarcerated an outrageous percentage of their people in Gulags with outrageous human rights conditions. Now the country with the highest incarceration rates in by far the United States and there are growing reports about outrageous abuses in our prisons as bad as what was going on in the USSR.
This does little or nothing to reduce crime; and even does the opposite, since people held in prison where they're kept in a violent environment may become more violent, not less, now that most rehabilitation efforts have been eliminated and replaced with "get tough on crime policies."
What the media rarely ever mentions is that a large segment of our society never has a first chance to to get a decent education and have reasonable economic opportunities that leave them desperate and inevitably lead to more crime. A large part of the reason for this is relentless efforts to cut many of the programs that improve the quality of life like the ones that Gottschalk reports that Texas is cutting. Texas isn't actually among the most violent states according to their murder rates; however other Southern states which are also following the same policies are much higher and they also have higher incarceration rates. Also, since Texas is so diverse, their violent crime rates fluctuate more than small states; some of the cities with the lowest murder rates, including Austin are much more progressive, by most accounts than the rest of Texas; and El Paso, which has a high immigrant population, also has a low murder rate. Contrary to the propaganda repeated over and over again immigrants and Hispanics aren't more violent than Caucasians at all.
As I have pointed out in previous articles the ones with the lowest murder rates are the ones that have been doing a better job addressing the root causes of crime in the long run. the ones with the highest murder rates are the ones that use the strictest get tough on crime policies including the death penalty. Only one of the states with the ten highest murder rates doesn't have the death penalty and six of the ones with the lowest don't; most of the states that don't have the death penalty are in the lower half, when it comes to murder rates.
There should be no doubt that social programs to reduce violence including teaching about how corporal punishment leads to escalating violence including child abuse bullying, domestic violence and murder. There should also be no doubt that when they ship all the jobs overseas and cut the resources for abandoned inner cities that they also contribute to major problems with crime.
Poor people without political connection are subject to the harshest punishments; while white collar criminals with political connections that cause all the poverty that leads to higher crime are almost never held accountable.
Although the vast majority of the national media isn't reporting it, there are a small number of local efforts to restore rehabilitation efforts like the following program in Boston:
This program has a lot in common with the one in Richmond, California; however it focuses more on education and providing more opportunities if the former gang members stay out of trouble than “paying them not to kill each other,” as some people referred to the program in Richmond. This should be far less controversial, however many conservatives will inevitably consider it “coddling” gang members.
However if the programs that conservatives promote routinely fail to work that should raise doubts about their effectiveness.
This program still claims that they’re getting a “second chance” without questioning whether many of them ever had a first chance. Many of these former gang members almost certainly were raised in areas that had a lot of violence and very low quality schools. These are the schools that Jonathan Kozol wrote about in “Death At An Early Age” where he taught back in the sixties.
His efforts to expose use of corporal punishment in schools helped bring that to an end and inevitably led to longer term reductions in violence, since this has been proven to lead to escalating violence, since it teaches children to respond to their problems with violence.
Unfortunately the vast majority of research presented by the traditional media presents the police as the primary and often sole solution to stop murder, as the following article indicates, where the police chief admits that he doesn’t “know how you stop that,” referring to a murder that he couldn’t have anticipated. They only briefly mention that “poverty and a lack of opportunities,” are part of the problem without giving the local leaders that want to address this more opportunity to make their point.
Regrettably there is little or no effort by most police departments or media outlets to recognize the long term contributing causes of violence; however when they first introduced what they call community policing in the nineties in the Boston area that wasn’t supposed to be the way it was handled.
When I first read about it they reported that police would often show up to domestic calls with a social worker, as well as police officers, that were trained for different purposes. Presumably the social worker would have helped try to provide counseling that police weren’t trained to provide.
If they did a better job counseling people on how to resolve their disputes they would be much less likely to escalate to a point where the police needed to be called. Additional resources put into schools or day care centers could also cut down dramatically on the long term contributing causes of violence.
Unfortunately a growing amount of the special interests with political clout is far more concerned with profiting off of crime or preserving job security for themselves than they are with reducing crime.
Gottschalk also writes about how private prisons are lobbying to increase incarceration rates or prevent efforts to reduce them and prison guard unions are also lobbying to do the same thing although they often prefer to avoid privatization and surprisingly many politicians are complying. This escalated under the Clinton administration with the draconian crime bill that led to large increases in incarceration.
And as the following excerpt shows some of the biggest corporations are trying to take advantage of an exception in the thirteenth amendment to allow slave labor for inmates:
Many corporations are more concerned with finding a way to increase their profits instead of reducing crime and they’re have an enormous amount of success lobbying the government to put these priorities ahead of the best interest of the vast majority of the public, especially in more authoritarian parts of the country, including the South where they’re more susceptible to “get tough on crime” policies that allow for a return of slavery.
When a growing portion of the political or economic system has a financial incentive to find more people guilty of crimes instead of trying to find out the most effective way of preventing them that should be a major concern to everyone.
Another major issue which both Marie Gottschalk and Michelle Alexander should have covered more on was the war on Drugs and how the Kerry Committee Report and follow up research by Gary Webb exposed how the CIA was looking the other way while drug runners were bringing in cocaine to the United States to finance the Contra War in the eighties.
This should not be considered wild conspiracy theory since it came largely from a congressional investigation, although it received very little media attention. Congresswoman Maxine Waters also investigated it and wrote the forward for Gary Webb’s book confirming large portions of it, including many of his sources which were government documents, in addition to the Kerry Report. Nor should we assume that it has ended since additional researchers including Alfred McCoy and Robert Parry have disclosed additional drug running since then.
It is too much to go into in this article but it shows that a large portion if not all of the increased incarceration was a result of blatant entrapment by our own government.
Selections from the Senate Committee Report on Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy chaired by Senator John F. Kerry
Gary Webb “Dark Alliance”
Program offers ex-cons way out 05/19/2017
Building a Prison-to-School Pipeline Formerly incarcerated undergrads started a group on campus to offer mentoring, support, and advocacy to other onetime inmates. 12/12/2016
Portugal’s Example: What Happened After It Decriminalized All Drugs, From Weed to Heroin 04/19/2016
Copyright Post-Script: In a functioning democracy the public needs to have access to the educational material they need to make informed decisions about policies that affect them, which is presumably part of the reason they made the fair use clause of copyright laws in the first place. Regrettably these laws have been leaning more towards corporations that control far more of the media than they ever had before.
The mainstream media is now controlled by six oligarchies. These six oligarchies now control over ninety percent of the media that is available nationwide and they were initially required to provide a public service in return for their favorable treatment from the government.
Since the first requirement that any political candidate need to win higher office beyond the local level, is name recognition these six oligarchies can and do use their control of the media to provide an enormous advantage to candidates they favor and that collect an enormous amount of money from multinational corporations. This means that in addition to controlling the vast majority of propaganda given to the public these oligarchies can ensure that only candidates they cover are considered viable, which is a major reason for many of the draconian policies that favor the rich come from politicians that pretend to be progressive during campaigns.
To put it bluntly they rig elections by rigging the media coverage and intellectual property laws that give them consolidated control of the media and restrict the ability of many others to spread information as fast help them do this.
Many of us were taught that this was exactly what the First Amendment was designed to prevent.
Copyright laws and other intellectual property laws are making it far more difficult to distribute the most credible research to the public. These oligarchies get a large portion of their funding through advertising revenue which comes from other oligarchies that control almost all of the economic system, and these advertising expenses are passed on to consumers as part of the cost of business, yet the media isn’t accountable to the public that indirectly finances them much if at all.
The vast majority of the public isn’t even aware of a large amount of the policy discussions that are only circulated in academic institutions. This is a major part of the reason why they’ve been able to escalate the epidemic levels of incarceration and cut back on the services that would prevent it. Many of the best researchers that truly want to implement policies that benefit the public almost certainly object to using intellectual property laws to slow down or prevent easy access to the public to important discussion that impacts them; however they’re presumably overruled by those with the most political clout.
Instead of reporting on the causes of crime they media repeats the same conservative propaganda over and over again even though it is the least reliable research and has proven to fail.
One small example of the limited excerpts that is taking place in the academic world is the following excerpt reviewing Gottschalk’s book from an employee of Minnesota Department of Corrections:
This review is relatively trivial, but it is just a sample of an enormous amount of work that is restricted to the vast majority of the public, thanks to intellectual property laws, whether it is proprietary information or work protected by copyright that can only be circulated with permission.
Many of these non-fiction studies are being used to develop public policy but the vast majority of the public doesn’t have access to it all. In a democratic society this is unacceptable.
His claim that she “makes no reference to personal pathologies of offenders, such as poor parenting, antisocial activities,” isn’t quite true, but it isn’t her primary focus; and she does recommend that we invest more in the programs that help solve these problems, which many get tough on crime advocates don’t do.
His claim that “largely a regurgitation of other scholars in the field,” may also be partly true; however who are all these other “scholars in the field,” and why aren’t the media covering them? Allowing a fraction of one percent to control the vast majority of propaganda used for political purposes contradicts the clear intent of the First Amendment!
In a functioning democracy using copyright or intellectual property laws to deprive the majority of the public of the information they need to participate in the decision making process is entirely unacceptable.
Gottschalk even cites one example in her books where a private prison claimed that details around the death of an inmate were trade secrets so they shouldn’t have to disclose it. No reasonable person would seriously believe that trade secrecy laws should be used to cover up the circumstances of a death that could potentially be a murder or a result of excessive use of force. The fact that they even tried it should be outrageous and it should get an enormous amount of attention.
Trade secrecy laws being used to hide corruption aren’t limited to the private prison industry; it is wide spread in just about all industries controlled by oligarchies. Susan Linn and Juliet Schor have both written about how proprietary information laws are used to keep secret research into psychological manipulation of children to increase effectiveness of deceptive advertising; Harriet Washington has written about how proprietary information laws have been used to help keep secret unethical medical research that would outrage many people if they knew about it and many other good authors that get little or no promotional help from the mainstream media have reported on how proprietary information laws are used to hide the use of sweatshop labor and that competing companies are often making their products in the same sweat shop or that they often use slotting fees to create an interlocking oligarchy, which essentially means that it isn’t a free market at all; proprietary information laws enable many disasters that endanger lives including cuts in safety that leads to disaster like the Deep Horizon oil spill, the ignition malfunction problem that cost people their lives the Firestone tire problem where they were falling apart causing many accidents and many more safety problem.
Then when the best authors report on this they have a hard time getting any promotion for their books from the mainstream media and copyright laws prevent them from spreading the information at a much quicker pace.
There may be some justification to call for new ways to finance research, in some cases but under the current circumstances the vast majority of this research is being funded one way or another, often with help from tax payer subsidies, or through other subsidies passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for consumer goods. This includes some revenue that is being provided by various corporations that are part of the contributing causes of violence like Insurance and Gambling institutions as indicated in some of the articles listed below.
The mainstream media collects an enormous amount of advertising revenue from gambling and insurance companies as well as other corporations like Wal-Mart, Victoria’s Secret, Boeing, and Starbucks that are profiting off of prison slave labor and ahs a financial incentive to minimize coverage of how they’re contributing indirectly to crime.
Fortunately it is unlikely that they would be inclined to issue cease and desist letters which is the typical first step for complaints about copyright violations since it would take too much efforts and if they did they might have to make their arguments in court and be known for trying to suppress educational information that could reduce crime and violence. Or at least if this is a low profile article, since it would only draw more attention to it, and if they debate the legitimacy of the draconian use of copyright laws to restrict access to educational material that the public needs it would increase attention to it and a growing portion of the public would realize how this is corrupting the democratic process.
They learned that this might backfire in the McLibel case when a relatively small effort to distribute leaflets in one local area turned into a major lawsuit that was reported worldwide drawing much more attention to poor labor practices by McDonalds than the leaflets did; so now they avoid lawsuits and try to minimize circulation of critical reviews, at least partly by ignoring it.
If the working class were more aware of how the educated class is using proprietary or secret information to establish political policies that affect them in a manner that enriches those at the top, which they are currently doing they would be much more likely to stand up to the current political establishment.
Many of the best researchers that are truly concerned about reducing crime realize that it is as important to distribute this material as widely as possible as it is to finance the research and that we should consider different ways to fund research.
It is often not the authors that copyright laws were initially intended to protect that are trying to enforce draconian copyright laws at all, but the copyright lawyers and publishing companies that are far more concerned about making a profit than actually providing a service.
I went into this in more detail in a couple articles about Copyright below. There are also many more about reducing the root causes of crime, including how income inequality increases crime, outsourcing, insurance gambling and many other contributing causes of violence and how to prevent them.
Marie Gottschalk "Caught: The Prison State" (additional excerpts)
Copyright violators are thought criminals
Ignored evidence linking corporal punishment, poverty and crime grows
Does lack of education increase violent crime? Religion?
How much does Income Inequality Affects Crime Rates?
States with high murder rates have larger veteran populations
Teach a soldier to kill and he just might
The tragedy of gambling politics in United States
How does gambling and gun control impact violent crime?
Politics, not technology, caused botched executions
Troy, Cameron, Gary all innocent? And executed?
Democrats do a bad job on crime; Republicans and the Media are worse!!
Politicians increase crime; Grass roots efforts reduce crime; Politicians steal the credit
Life Insurance and media companies are encouraging lots of murders
Union Busting adds to corrupt bureaucracy and incites crime
For-Profit Insurance is Government Authorized Crime Syndicate
Walmart’s “Restorative Justice” Endangers Public Without Reducing Crime