Steve Lyston | Crime and development in Jamaica
If the nation is truly serious about effectively dealing with the problem of crime, the nation will need to face serious truths and hard facts on the issue. It is not about implementing new laws, or allocating more financial resources to law enforcement or building more prisons. The fact of the matter is that every member of the society must take responsibility for the role they each play in the development of their community and nation.
Poverty and rebellion are the basic instruments of crime; and lack of jobs, lack of training, broken families and a general lack of opportunities all contribute. In order to deal with the problem, we must proactively achieve the first four Sustainable Development Goals as agreed by the member states of the United Nations, including Jamaica. Those first four goals, when achieved, can make a profound contribution to the elimination of crime. When that is accomplished, there will be significant reduction in blue- and white-collar crime.
Those first four goals are:
- No poverty
- Zero hunger
- Good health and well-being
- Quality education
Goal 1: No Poverty
When this is achieved in all forms, for example, through raising the minimum wage and reducing land tax, it will have positive impact on their emotional and spiritual well-being, which will help to decrease crime and violence. Poverty affects even the mental health of a person and minimises their participation in crime and violence.
Goal 2: Zero Hunger
We need to begin focusing our efforts on our agricultural industry and start to reduce the price of food, cut down on waste, lease land to the people so that they can farm, and remove the bureaucracy so that they can be allowed to get their products in the marketplace. They can also issue fertiliser at low or no cost, and cease divesting the land so that it can be utilised for rearing livestock as well as farming. Furthermore, giving free basic items, such as skimmed milk powder for the babies, can go a far way in ensuring that they don't go hungry. Remember, a hungry man is an angry man - at any stage.
Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being
Establish more clinics, begin training more community nurses and nurses' assistants and make available good medication at low or no cost - no generic medicines. Engage in home visitation of the elderly and physically challenged to give vaccines and other medication as needed. Have properly trained family planning counsellors go into the communities to counsel the youth on getting an education first before positioning themselves to start a family.
Goal 4: Quality Education
We must have more technical schools for those who have skills. Literacy programmes must be brought back - similar to JAMAL. Change the approach to basic-school teaching and employ the Montessori model. Have empowerment sessions to broaden the mental scope of the young people, and give financial assistance to high-school and university graduates until opportunities for employment present themselves.
Focus for Achieving
The focus must now be on four ministries - finance, health, agriculture, and labour and social security.
The number 4 is significant and symbolically represents creation, seasons, direction, rule/reign and the planetary bodies. Nations have to be aligned with God's design of the universe and how he ordained business to function.
Solving crime will require four sectors - private and public sectors, the Church and civil society - to work together. The Church can maximise its building use by offering them as counselling and training centres. Meanwhile, the private and public sectors, in conjunction with civil society, can engage in job creation, training and giving.
Politicians should not support crime and violence through the giving of handouts to gunmen and dons in order to maintain political longevity.
Transfer Minister (Robert) Montague back to agriculture. That ministry needs him in order to achieve Goal 2 of the four goals outlined.
Transfer Attorney General (Marlene) Malahoo Forte to the security portfolio, along with a strong assistant.
Maintain INDECOM (the Independent Commission of Investigations) but carry out intensive motivational activities and training for its staff. INDECOM is needed and should be maintained.
Create a team to help train and reform the police force to focus on community policing. We need persons with strong, positive people skills. For example, Major General Robert Neish, former Superintendent Ionie Ramsey, Colonel D. G. Pryce and former Deputy Commissioner Mark Shields. Additionally, the minister of national security - regardless of the political affiliation, must have operational control with regard to the Force, if we are going to hold them accountable.
The boot, the baton, the bayonet and the bullet won't solve crime.
- Steve Lyston is a biblical economics consultant and author of several books, including 'End Time Finance' and 'The New Millionaire'.