Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Crime country - No easy fix to nation’s ills

Published:Friday | July 15, 2016 | 7:26 AM
In this 2009 file photo, members of a joint police-military team patrol Salt Spring, St James following an attack on the community by heavily armed thugs.

Today, we begin a journey in Solutions Journalism, where we put conscious minds together to explore issues and provide ideas they believe will solve some of the country’s most intractable challenges. Join us on this journey, which begins at The Fourth Floor, and be a part of the solution.

– Garfield Grandison, editor-in-chief

A lottery scammer can become a millionaire long before he reaches voting age. Boys as young as 14 have reportedly hauled in millions via the illegal enterprise, which has held Montego Bay and its environs in a vise-like grip for more than a decade.

Lottery scamming and its associated violence have torn several communities apart and continue to threaten security and stability in the Second City. An estimated US$300 million is scammed each year from unsuspecting older citizens mainly in North America.

The Fourth Floor, while searching for solutions to Jamaica's crime problem, asked the question: How can we make Jamaica safe?

The lottery scam has exposed a deep national crisis marked by a significant shift from old-time values to material well-being. Values such as honesty no longer form the guiding principle in many people's lives. Discipline, good manners, and respect for each other are also in short supply.

Finding our way back to a peaceful existence is not an easy fix and demands a buy-in from all citizens because it was felt by Fourth Floor participants that the challenges facing Jamaica touch everyone.

Three hours of Fourth Floor focus provided a reasonable basis to believe that weak policing and community collusion have both contributed to the expansion of the lottery scam from its base in St James to every other parish on the island.