Fri | Jul 19, 2019

Letter of the Day | Crush crime with brain, not brawn

Published:Wednesday | December 12, 2018 | 12:00 AM


I write in response to an article published in The Gleaner on December 6, 2018, titled 'Whose lives matter more?'. The writer seems clearly and understandably despondent and frustrated at Jamaica's unacceptable crime rate and the fact that solutions adopted to date have not had any meaningful or sustainable impact.

Consequently, the writer suggests "it matters little how we rid society of the criminals, whether permanent or long term, but remove them we must". However, we should be very careful in expressing our public opinions and not let our emotions get the better of balanced and careful thought.

We are perpetually using phrases such as "fighting crime" and "declaring war on crime", to the extent that we even employ methods to control crime on a scale that resembles a country at war. In time, such measures erode trust, empathy, and love and are often replaced by coarseness, brutality, and hate!

One readily accepts that we have a crime problem in our country, but let us agree, for instance, there is no evidence to support that the reinstatement of the death penalty would in any way serve as a deterrent or lead to a reduction in crime.

Please let us understand that to make a criminal of any sort you need to start with an environment and then mix in the other factors. It is no secret that the children of criminals have a greater chance of becoming criminals than the children of non-criminals. Stopping criminality must involve the taking away of the motive and the opportunity.

We, therefore, need to reduce the opportunity by reducing the probability of success. I believe we can achieve this through 'deter, detect, assess, and respond', and certainly not by 'corner, entrap, cage, and otherwise rid ourselves of them'.

In our efforts to control crime, let us have respect for our systems, processes and, above all, the rule of law. All Jamaicans are innocent until proven otherwise. We cannot determine guilt through speculation or hearsay. We certainly should not arrive at guilt based on another's socio-economic status or where one happens to reside.

In our thinking and plans, one hopes we do not allow fear to have us disregard the rights of others, to adopt draconian measures not befitting a civilised and democratic society.

Let those who clamour for a disregard of another's rights try to put themselves in the shoes of an innocent young man striving to improve his station in life who is scraped up like an animal, placed in a cage and beaten, all because of his appearance, where he lives, or the friends he has.


Retired Colonel