Wed | Dec 13, 2017

Letter of the Day | If we want to really solve crime

Published:Tuesday | June 20, 2017 | 12:05 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I was enthralled by Gordon Robinson's Sunday Gleaner In Focus piece titled 'Where have I heard this before?' (June 18, 2017) by the sheer awful truth of it.

I wish to agree that as Mr Robinson has stated, this is a "dusting off" and updating of the "same-old, same-old" going back to the 1970s. And sadly I agree that, as he posits, they are doomed again to fail, if success be defined as "the eradication of crime" in our little island.

Crime, in most countries that are not in civil disorder or war, is rooted in poverty and high population numbers where there is a concurrent high level of unemployment.

I like to make the analogy that "Miss Matty's 12 pickney dem grow up now and the "bwoy dem tun gunman". What I mean is, we have forgotten our powerful and successful post-Independence population management programme in this country, and with a stultified, staggering weak economy since Independence, many of our male and female youth have dropped out of school, and many of the boys have drifted into gun crime, especially those in depressed communities.

The large numbers of young girls having children produce, in turn, large numbers of fatherless, starving children with no male role model and, of course, no support - psychological or financial. Numerous criminal gangs easily recruit these eager youngsters who see in them what little family and bonding with older males that they will ever see.

Combine this with easily available illegal firearms and ammunition smuggled into Jamaica from the US and some from Haiti and we have the present deadly amalgam that is slowly and violently consuming us, all of us, man, woman and child.

Where are the port-of-entry X-ray machines? So what do we do? Import new armoured vehicles, new helicopters, new and more powerful firearms for the police? More military patrols? More members in the JCF & JDF? None of those will provide but "plaster on the cancer of crime".

One sure solution is more social programmes where we first find out how many Jamaicans live on this island, how many people need social intervention and how many of us fall below the poverty line. I am sure it will be a shock to find out how poor many of our people really are.

Each year, more dropouts enter the hundreds of known gangs. Ask the JCF how many gangs they know of in Jamaica. The answer will curl your hair. It is in the hundreds, and of various sizes. The politicians are mostly powerless despite their silly posturing and puffed-up chests on the topic of crime control. They have bodyguards, we have none.

Long-term social programmes, activities, and training for the poorly qualified youth (male and female), population-management strategies, control of firearm and ammunition entry, new modern humane prisons with severe restriction but education of for those convicted, and a bipartisan, integrated political approach to slowly solving the social root of violent crime. Only then can we really say we want to solve crime in our beloved country.

KARL AIKEN (PhD)

UWI, Mona Campus