FROM an editorial in the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal on the...

Salmagundi

November 23, 1993

FROM an editorial in the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal on the crime bill:

"Spending billions on more police and prisons doesn't attack the causes of crime.

"The obsession in Congress with attacking violent crime is understandable. People, particularly in metropolitan areas, are fed up with crime. They are tired of being afraid to walk down their streets, and they are demanding that Congress do something.

"But isn't this approach -- more police, harsher penalties, more prisons -- somewhat misguided? Doesn't it ignore the causes of crime? Wouldn't some of these billions be more wisely and efficiently spent on preventing young people from growing up to become violent criminals?

"We know that some individuals will become violent criminals regardless of how much society tries to steer them toward law-abiding, productive lives. But we also know that each violent criminal came into the world as an innocent bundle of joy, only to be perverted somewhere on the path through life.

"How many of those future criminals would have gone straight had they encountered a social worker, a child psychologist, a mentor or a role model at a critical time in their formative years? How many would have taken a different path had their parents received some help at crucial times? How many juvenile offenders would have changed their ways had they been dealt with effectively after committing their first crime? . . .

"The FBI's annual report for 1992 shows the rate of violent crime continuing upward. The rates and seriousness of juvenile crime are climbing. . . .

"Yes, more prisons are needed today. And more police can take more criminals off the streets today.

"But America's problems with violent crime will continue unless more resources are directed toward helping the young people who will be tomorrow's criminals."

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