Fri | Sep 22, 2017

What do we replace crime with?

Published:Wednesday | November 25, 2015 | 11:00 AM

There are some who make an honest bread and are content with living a simple life - within their means. The vast majority of us fall into this bracket.

But there are others who, even with the absence of education and skill, have found a way to live lavishly. They enjoy a life of opulence you and I can only dream of or watch on TV.

Ill-gotten gains as a result of scamming and crime persist, in spite of new legislation and remittance restriction and crime-fighting task forces.

I hate crime and criminals as much as the next guy, but to rid Jamaica of crime, it will take a lot more than hate. We have to acknowledge that, in some instances, we have failed the criminal.

Consider who turns to scamming. Nobody leaves gainful employment where they are paid a decent wage to become a scammer, not as I understand it. Area dons don't have the same power over those who are out of the community and at work. The power of the don is only over the unemployed man who depends on him for money to meet his needs and the needs of his family. What if that man didn't need the don? What if he were able to fend for himself?

I'm not feeling sorry for those who turn to a life of crime, nor am I justifying their decisions. I'm simply calling it as it is, and recognising that crime will need a replacement.

When you take away the illegitimate source of funding on which they have long depended, what alternative do you leave the community with? Take away the scamming, or the don, and you are still left with a desperate set of people who must eat. And with no education and no skill, what will their next move be?

When the scammer stops scamming, he will move on to another form of illegal activity because he has not been taught to work. We are already seeing it in some of our communities in the west. I worry about whether such a man can be reformed. Having been in a position where he gets everything with little or no effort, how do you now show that person the value in hard work? How do you pacify him with a 'JEEP job' and the accompanying salary?

We need a serious shake-up if we are going to win the crime fight. I'm no commissioner, or minister of national security, I'm merely one very concerned citizen who sees my beautiful island being destroyed by poverty and greed and education gaps and underemployment.

I wish those who fell prey to the will of dons would notice a telling sign. The don means them no good. The don doesn't raise his child to carry on the don legacy, in most instances. He uses his proceeds of crime to elevate his children. He sends them to the best schools and drives into their heads the need to do well, scholastically, and choose a career.

The profile of many of those dependent on crime are people who got left behind in the education system. Jamaica is riddled with have-nots who believe they, too, should have - by any means necessary.

Poverty, illiteracy and frustration are a dangerous combination. These are the demons we must fight. Today, a life of crime is attractive because of the inverse correlation between effort and skill required, and reward. To win this war, we have to think beyond ridding the crime in Jamaica and see further to replacing the crime in Jamaica.

• Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.