QUES­TIONS CON­CERN­ING CRIME

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - - - The au­thor is a for­mer min­is­ter of gov­ern­ment who served both UWP and SLP ad­min­is­tra­tions. By Peter Josie

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, Saint Lu­cians are no dif­fer­ent from other peo­ple. They suf­fer sim­i­lar emo­tional pain at the pass­ing of a loved one; a ma­jor­ity be­lieves in a supreme be­ing and a ma­jor­ity speaks not from proven sci­en­tific re­sults. In­stead, peo­ple tend to re­gur­gi­tate thought­lessly what­ever is seen and heard on tele­vi­sion, from the mouths of their favourite politi­cian and icon. Untested in­for­ma­tion, mis­in­for­ma­tion and down­right lies have now been rechris­tened as fake news, as if a change of name can ame­lio­rate their per­verse in­tent. Un­for­tu­nately, some peo­ple still blindly fol­low cer­tain politi­cians, even as ear­lier prom­ises of bet­ter days failed mis­er­ably.

The is­sue of crime de­mands a more an­a­lyt­i­cal mind­set. The propen­sity to cling to the fa­mil­iar, even when it has proven dan­ger­ous to per­sonal se­cu­rity, can­not be al­lowed to pre­vail. We now face the dilemma of want­ing to solve crime with­out proper sci­en­tific study into its gen­e­sis and evo­lu­tion. The dilemma re­minds one of the say­ing ‘There’s none so blind as those who would not see’.

Some peo­ple be­lieve that crime is rooted in so­cial dis­or­der stem­ming from poor par­ent­ing. Oth­ers say that the grow­ing in­ci­dence of crime and the rea­sons for the spike in anti-so­cial be­hav­iour and law­less­ness are due to in­creas­ing un­god­li­ness and greed. Still there are oth­ers who be­lieve that some peo­ple’s brains are dif­fer­ently wired at birth, mak­ing them more sus­cep­ti­ble to de­viant be­hav­iour and crim­i­nal con­duct. These are the so-called bad eggs of so­ci­ety that seem to defy proper anal­y­sis and un­der­stand­ing.

The irony of the sit­u­a­tion is that those em­pow­ered to in­sti­tute nec­es­sary mea­sures, in­clud­ing re­search, seem re­luc­tant or un­able to do so. ‘And noth­ing hap­pens’ re­mains a sad an­them of suc­ces­sive at­tempts to take a bite out of crime. What, dear reader, may be the rea­son for this lack of en­thu­si­asm for re­search into the root causes of crime? Could it be fear that such a study would re­veal more hid­den truths than the so­ci­ety is able to han­dle? Or are we afraid to face our own guilt and hid­den scars? How many cit­i­zens have sug­gested to suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments that heav­ily tinted win­dows should be out­lawed on the is­land’s roads? Why hide in­side a black cof­fin-on-wheels on a pub­lic road, if one has noth­ing to fear?

The gov­ern­ment should en­gage two or three ex­perts in the field of so­ci­ol­ogy, crim­i­nal de­tec­tion, psy­chol­ogy and law to ini­ti­ate re­search into the root causes of crime. A study of the cap­tive au­di­ence at Borde­lais and per­haps the Boys’ Train­ing Cen­tre at Mas­sade, Gros-Islet may be a good place to start. Ques­tions aimed at re­veal­ing the rea­sons why some have run afoul of the law should in­clude in­for­ma­tion on their par­ents and fam­ily, place of work and re­la­tions with the ex­tended fam­ily. Their level of ed­u­ca­tion, place of birth and the type of en­vi­ron­ment in which they live should also prove use­ful. Ques­tions re­lat­ing to par­ents’ so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, games and their chil­dren’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in sports and the names of their sport­ing icons should also prove handy.

It is widely agreed that crime is com­mit­ted by a mi­nor­ity of young peo­ple, mostly males. There are there­fore two dif­fer­ent pop­u­la­tions of young peo­ple to be stud­ied: those who have avoided crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, steer­ing a law-abid­ing path, and oth­ers who have fallen through the prover­bial cracks in the so­ci­ety, should make in­ter­est­ing com­par­isons and read­ing. A care­ful study of the root causes of crime would prove use­less, if such find­ings were not used to launch a so­cial and devel­op­ment pro­gramme for per­sons most in need of sup­port.

With­out prej­u­dice, the most im­por­tant dis­cov­ery may turn out to be the lack of parental love and car­ing in the lives of those who have fallen foul of the law. Could this lack be the over­ar­ch­ing rea­son for an­ti­so­cial con­duct? Is this lack of love and care con­nected to the in­creas­ing greed and un­godly con­duct one hears about? Ques­tions on crime ought to also fo­cus on the so­ci­ety and its un­wit­ting pre­dis­po­si­tion to law­less­ness. Does the con­stant ag­i­ta­tion and hate­ful lan­guage from po­lit­i­cal hacks and ac­tivists pro­vide an en­vi­ron­ment which crim­i­nals use to their ad­van­tage? Do po­lit­i­cal par­ties pro­vide an um­brella for crim­i­nals to hide and shel­ter? Does loose talk on ra­dio and tele­vi­sion by per­sons in­ca­pable of clear, log­i­cal think­ing add to a neg­a­tive crime-in­fested en­vi­ron­ment?

Other rel­e­vant ques­tions might in­clude: Does the mi­gra­tion of young per­sons from ru­ral to ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties re­sult in in­creased crime? Does the propen­sity of politi­cians and their hacks to make reck­less state­ments em­bolden those with a crim­i­nal bent? Does the ero­sion of fam­ily co­he­sion and Chris­tian val­ues ag­gra­vate crim­i­nal be­hav­iour? Does the abuse of chil­dren in any form lead to anti-so­cial con­duct and crime?

In the fi­nal anal­y­sis a study of the root causes of crime ought to an­swer the ques­tion: What must be done to ame­lio­rate and even­tu­ally stop its growth? A pro­gres­sive and ob­ser­vant so­ci­ety must take ac­tion to curb crime be­fore this is sat­is­fac­to­rily an­swered. For this rea­son I ap­plaud the new mayor of Cas­tries for the bold steps he has taken with his coun­cil­lors to com­bat crime in the city. Clean­ing up the city is a nec­es­sary first step. More city con­sta­bles are prov­ing a suc­cess, com­bat­ting petty crimes. In this re­gard the gov­ern­ment would be well ad­vised to bite the bul­let and re­port progress on the Gryn­berg and IMPACS mat­ters.

Un­less IMPACS and Gryn­berg are set­tled to the sat­is­fac­tion of the cit­i­zens and the US State De­part­ment, con­fi­dence in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem will be fur­ther eroded, at the same time mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to fight crime.

We now face the dilemma of want­ing to solve crime with­out proper sci­en­tific study into its gen­e­sis and evo­lu­tion. The dilemma re­minds one of the say­ing ‘There’s none so blind as those who would not see’.

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