Roger Goodwill | Solving crime in Jamaica
When I was born on the night of March 22, 1993, shots were ringing out between criminals of rival gangs within the central Kingston communities of Southside and Tel-Aviv. Tel-Aviv is a known territory for the People's National Party, while Southside is affiliated with the Jamaica Labour Party.
Clueless to the nature of the Jamaican political and family setting, I, too, was born without a father, out of wedlock, to a single mother, poor, and a very Catholic grandmother and family.
Today, the country is grappling with crime and violence again. Notice, I said again, because Jamaica, though beautiful, is, indeed, known for its high murder rate, political corruption, gangs, and the drug trade, and even though we are approaching our 55th anniversary as an independent nation, we have yet to learn the reason why we have failed to exorcise this demon called crime.
Crime within the ghettos of Jamaica, especially central Kingston, is not just based on drugs or turf but rather the desire to be rich, to travel and to live in Barbican, Norbrook, Cherry Gardens or Beverly Hills. Crime isn't caused because our youths of the inner city have nothing to do. Rather, if you listen to our native dancehall songs of Mavado, "Even if mi lef di gully", or "Mi want a billion dollar by a morning" by Vybz Kartel, you will realise that my ghetto brothers and sisters do have ambition and the desire to be happy like all our well-off Jamaicans. The music of inner-city youths is their personal prayer to attain self-worth and happiness.
The Jamaica Labour Party, led by the young but experienced Andrew Holness on the political campaign, told Jamaicans that we would be safe if we voted JLP, but since then, we have yet to see the downhill of crime.
Cry of the poor
However, neither Andrew Holness nor Opposition Leader Peter Phillips can ever stop crime until we understand the cry of the poor. No matter what bill is passed in Parliament, such legislation will never curb the bloodletting until our poor feel accepted. To help reduce crime in our inner-city communities, I will recommend these initiatives:
- Dismantle ghettos: Do not have more than 500 persons living in a specific area and, if overcrowded, there should be a case officer provided by the Ministry of Youth for each child within that area or family.
- Better family life: Promote marriage and find those missing parents.
- Parents (teenagers) who had kids early should be taught ethical and moral values.
- Create social spaces like parks, fields and community centres.
- Create social programmes without any political influence or connection.
- Streamline the registration of licence plates to indicate in which parish the documentation was issued, which would help the police in conducting spot checks.
- Educate the poor and create dignified jobs to help them.
- Remove dons immediately rather than allow them to find root within the communities.
- Political representatives should come from among the people so as to better understand the situation.
- Rebuild our prisons and create jobs on release of these ex-convicts. Do not allow them to re-enter the community from whence they came because a life of crime can be repeated.
- Love our boys. Teach them to cry, to apologise, to love, and to appreciate.
- Roger R. Goodwill is a seminarian for the Roman Catholic Church. These views do not reflect the views or opinions of the Archdiocese of Kingston. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.