Should we fix ’em…continued

fork in the roadWe would argue that we should fix ’em, especially our youth.

Children as young as 6 can show criminological tendencies, but they have virtually no choice in their immediate environment. Just as problematic is that those factors that can ‘protect’ them have not yet developed.

'I wish you wouldn't carry knives in your trousers - they make such holes in your pockets!'
‘I wish you wouldn’t carry knives in your trousers – they make such holes in your pockets!’

We know, for example, that the ‘family’ domain is among the most important for the proper development of children. If a child is born into a family with abusive or neglectful parents, s/he is starting life without the emotion strength to handle the everyday rigors of childhood traumas. If the parents are antisocial themselves it puts the child in increased danger, and yet they have no choice of their parents, their socioeconomic status, their antisocial attitudes or anything else about how they are raised. Parenting takes skill, and yet this most important responsibility is often left to chance. No one would really argue that a single, teenage mother is not the best environment for a child, yet that is the reality for too many of our nation’s children.

teen in cuffs.jpgAs a child grows their environment widens. They play with the kids in their neighborhood and also begin attending school. At this point the way they were raised in their home begins to be affected by peers and school influences. The best thing that can happen to the child raised in the home previously described is that they find supportive friends and love school. In such a case these would become protective factors from the negatives found in the home. Often though, the negative home environment causes the child to go to school with an attitude, a bad attitude. When this happens school is also a negative experience and the child only forms friendships with other disillusioned children…and the number of criminological factors begin to grow.

family therapyIt is our belief that the first 4 years of school (K-3) are the most important for a child’s future development. If risk factors such as hyperactivity, aggression, antisocial behaviors and beliefs, dishonesty and others can be identified when the child is young there is an increased chance these behaviors can be modified. Of note, it may only be when a child goes to school that their parents’ lack of parenting skills becomes evident. If true changes are to be made with the child we must work closely with the parent(s) to provide them the education and support required so real changes can be made.

palm familyThere are many successful programs already in existence that have proven themselves able to change the lives of both parents and children for the better. Some start before children even start school, others later. What they all have in common is that they help the parents, not just the children. Here is a link to some of those successful programs: http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/12/16/5-effective-parenting-programs-to-reduce-problem-behaviors-in-children/

fork in road with kidsThese programs are not as wide-spread as they might otherwise be because they are cost money. This is why many of our citizens don’t support them, they don’t want to pay the cost. In our view this is short-sighted because we will absolutely pay the cost, either now or later. The problem is that later costs even more, both in money and ruined lives…and what does it say about us?   You’re at the fork in the road, which path should we take?

Advertisements

A Tip Of the Hat To Our “Greatest Generation”

Carefully study this artwork.  Then, read what we did.

Not only is the picture awesome, but so are the statistics!

 

 

 

During the 3-1/2 years of World War II that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 and ended with the surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945,  “We the People of the U.S.A. ” produced the following:

            22 aircraft carriers

              8 battleships

            48 cruisers

          349 destroyers

          420 destroyer escorts

          203 submarines

            34 million tons of merchant ships

   100,000 fighter aircraft

     98,000 bombers

     24,000 transport aircraft

     58,000 training aircraft

     93,000 tanks

   257,000 artillery pieces

   105,000 mortars

3,000,000 machine guns and

2,500,000 military trucks

 

We put 16.1 million men in uniform in the various armed services, invaded Africa, invaded Sicily and Italy, won the battle for the Atlantic, planned and executed D-Day, marched across the Pacific and Europe, developed the atomic bomb and, ultimately, conquered Japan and Germany.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it.

Should We Fix Them Before They’re Broken?

juvenile holding cellThe current state of criminological research allows us to predict those who are most likely to commit crime. We can not, however, specifically point to a single individual and say s/he will commit a crime…with real certainty. Prediction models are based on risk factors. Individual factors alone do not predict criminality, but when factors start adding up so does the risk of offending. Since these factors are now known, society can make policy choices as to how it chooses to deal with this problem. Some advocate for early intervention, while others advocate not spending money on potential criminal activity, but instead wait for real criminality and then throw the criminals in jail.

risk factorsRisk factors are comprised of characteristics that have been identified with increased criminality. In contrast, protective factors are characteristics that serve to mitigate risk factors. In essence, a protective factor ‘protects’ a person from criminality when they might otherwise resort to crime. As mentioned earlier, risk factors have a multiplicative effect on the likelihood to commit a crime. A 10-year-old boy exposed to 6 or more risk factors is 10 times as likely to commit a violent crime by the age of 18 as one who has been exposed to only one factor.

decision treeThe direction our policy takes should be informed by 3 dimensions of concern: the individual dimension, helping turn around that youth in danger of becoming a criminal; the moral dimension, the value we put on victims and the pain and suffering that will occur if we do not act; and the societal dimension, what our action or inaction says about us as a nation.

So, are you a fix ’em early type of person, or a wait and lock up as soon as possible type? Let me know.

Next post I will identify both risk and protective factors across all the domains that typically affect our youth. We will see how each factor pushes a child away from a pro-social environment and towards a life of criminality.

The Catch-22 Between Employment and Criminality

catch 22The relationship between criminality and employment is a “catch-22” situation. Communities known as high crime areas are also high in criminality. So employment would help lower the crime rate. But at the same time these communities are unattractive to investors because they are high crime areas, so no jobs will be created. And so the cycle continues.

This reciprocal relationship presents a difficult problem. Potential businesses are wary of such areas because both their property and personnel are at risk. Goods are likely to be stolen, the property may be damaged, employees could be assaulted and customers intimidated. If business is to be attracted to the area these conditions must be mitigated.

Business also has another concern, the potential pool of employees. This same geographic area may be filled with unemployed people, but do those same people have the skill-set to get and keep attractive jobs? You know, the type of jobs that pay well above minimum wage, offer a chance at promotion and provide a sense of purpose or accomplishment?

This is where the Pro American Party comes in: Tenet #12. “In areas of combined high crime and high unemployment the PAP believes there is a beneficial role for the Department Of Labor to assist that will be in the best interests of all Americans. The DOL will limit the risk to investors who create businesses in high crime areas by providing low cost insurance against theft and/or damage to their property or product. The DOL will also work with the business to determine the skill-set needed to be a successful employee and provide needed training to individuals living in the area.”

supply and demandThis type of intervention is necessary if we are to eliminate historically high crime areas and allow them to be transformed into cohesive neighborhoods where it is safe for both business and people to work and live.

This program will make supply-side economists happy because job training improves the attractiveness of individuals to employers. It will also be attractive to demand-side economists because it reduces the costs of employment borne by the employer.

The Pro American Party believes the strategy outlined above is a much stronger and less expensive option designed to increase employment than previously tried programs.  Back in 1992, HUD provided $168 million to fund ‘Moving to Opportunity;’ a test program to reduce unemployment and crime. With this idea HUD thought they would move residents in high crime areas out of the area and near areas where jobs existed. HUD did not expect (but I’d bet you already have)that this program met significant opposition from suburban residents afraid of the impact of poor minority families on their communities. Further, it was also a failure for the families that it wanted to move because they felt completely out of their element in new and unfamiliar neighborhoods.

poverty experience.pngMarrying economic opportunity to high crime areas, when accomplished, eliminates the isolation of high poverty neighborhoods from the legitimate job market. For the youth in the neighborhood, knowing legitimate jobs are available will increase their motivation to go to school. Once they can see a real connection between education and financial success high school becomes more attractive.  And of course, more attractive jobs means less crime.

A double win-win for them, their community, the businesses involved and the entire country.

Should Felons Be Able to Work?

hire a felonThe Pro American Party believes that all Americans deserve to be able to work. This is true whether they have a criminal record or not. The issue of criminality is a complex one and needs to be viewed from multiple lens. This post intends to examine some of the many  factors that cause persons to resort to criminality and will attempt to get you to agree that if we can change those factors we can reduce crime. Because of the complexity of this issue we will devote this post and two or three more posts to the topic before we move on.

scarlet letterRemember the book “The Scarlet Letter?” Without telling you, this book wrote about labeling theory. Labeling theory is the idea that once someone is labeled in a certain way, let’s say “felon” for instance, people will look at them that way forever.  In fact, even the person who has acquired the label will end up acting in accordance with the label given. Labeling theory predicts that those who think of themselves as felons will act as felons. Being turned down for a job because of their record, simply reinforces the ‘felon’ label and encourages them to act in the way that is expected of them. If you are a felon looking for work, but can’t find it and everyone tells you it is because of your criminal record…what is left? For many, committing a crime to get the money needed to survive seems the only choice. As an aside, for those young parents out there, if you want to help your children get a good start in life, begin calling them kind and thoughtful and sweet and smart.

It is our belief that our poorest communities suffer from labeling theory in that they come to expect deviant behaviors from their members and in time many come to believe that in themselves. If you live in a poor urban environment the chances of you ending up in prison go up significantly. scarlet letter quote.pngIt really could not be otherwise. One of the most important factors in determining whether someone gets involved in criminality is whether their friends are. If their friends are involved in a gang, they almost certainly will be too. And youth gangs are a big source of crime and most live in this environment. Add to that poverty, impulsiveness, drugs and a lack of proper parental oversight and the results will be stacked in your favor for producing a criminal time and again. Toss in a belief that school is a waste of time and you’ll really stack the deck in your favor.

An American anthropologist, Oscar Lewis, coined the term ‘culture of poverty’. According to Lewis the culture of poverty constitutes a “design for living” that is passed on from one generation to the next. Individuals feel marginalized, helpless and inferior, and adopt an attitude of living for the present. They are fatalistic. Families are characterized by high divorce rates, with mothers and children abandoned; they become matrifocal family, headed by women.poverty-cycle.jpg People adopting this culture of poverty do not participate in community life or join political parties; they make little use of banks, hospitals and the like. According to Lewis the culture of poverty perpetuates poverty: It “tends to perpetuate itself from generation to generation because of its effect on children. By the time slum children are aged six or seven, they have usually absorbed the basic values and attitudes of their subculture and are not psychologically geared to take full advantage of changing conditions or increased opportunities which may occur in their lifetime.”

Other researchers agree with Lewis and argue that the attitudes expressed by the culture of poverty are a reaction to low income and a lack of opportunity, so that if these causes would be removed, so would the culture of poverty.

hopeThis is where the Pro American Party’s tenet #2 comes in. Tenet #2 opens the door for full employment, health care and economic stability. For many it will be the first time in their lives that this opportunity will have presented itself. It is both our hope and belief that this opportunity, over time, will help to minimize the ‘culture of poverty’ because in addition to a job, it will allow hope for a brighter future to rise again.

Once the poorest among us see a glimmer of hope via a conventional lifestyle the realities holding together their subculture will subside. Once we see job stability, hope and opportunity  come together we will see e a reduction in crime.

A big reduction.

Would You Rather be Rich or Happy? Guest Column – Mr. Michael Ramon

feeling betterHave you ever thought, ‘boy, I’d love to be rich?’   Most people have and if you are American I know you have.   It’s fun to dream about all the ‘things’ we might have…at least a little.   The problem with this dream comes when we try to make it a reality.

Not all, but many rich people, especially those who made it themselves, are driven, unhappy, and are desperately hoping that money will buy happiness.  Sorry, won’t happen.   Money buys things, it can even buy people…but it does not buy happiness.

One of the problems with our current culture is that the desire for money has destroyed our values.   Its pursuit has become a religion to some, but a religion without a foundation.  I’m not advocating that being poor is better…not by a long shot, but there is a point between being poor and being rich that is the ‘sweet-spot’.  You’ve found it when you can pay all your monthly bills and still have time for yourself, your family and your community.

happy black familyIf you want to be happy it is important to look inside yourself to find your true values.   More important than money is the feeling of purpose.   If you can find a job that answers this need and pays you enough to live on….congratulations, you are one of the few.   If you are the one in a million whose purpose ends up making you rich…wow…just don’t forget your original values when you see how your wealth has screwed up your relationships with friends and family…and meeting new people without questioning their motives will never happen again.

Writer Dominique Astorino recently wrote an article that stated that being happy boils down to four basic things:

  1. People who are more socially connected are happier, physically healthier, and live longer.
  2. Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to close relationships; relationship satisfaction predicts future health.
  3. While high-conflict marriages can be worse than divorce, a “good relationship” doesn’t mean zero bickering. There are ups and downs, but the trust, commitment, and respect are key.
  4. “Loneliness kills.” The feeling of loneliness can be toxic; people who are isolated are less happy, their health declines sooner, their brain function declines sooner, and they live shorter lives.

Her conclusions were based on the results of an impressive 75-year study done by Harvard University.   To read the entire article, which I recommend, go to: http://a.msn.com/05/en-us/BBqQx4a?ocid=se

keys to happinessHere is  another site I would recommend.   It is called ‘Action for Happiness’ and can be found at www.actionforhappiness.org

If you really want to be happy, start with their first key…giving.   And bring your kids with you.    Find a way of giving that is meaningful for you.  And for just this first time, don’t give money.   Instead, give your time, energy and creativeness.   feeding homelessMake sure your giving results in improving the lives of others, especially those in need.   Giving a poor little girl a coloring book or bagging food at a food bank might just make your day.   Once you have giving down, work on the other keys and with each effort your own life will take on extra meaning.

Once that happens, happiness is close behind.

 

 

 

Why The NPA is a Good Idea

professionThere has been an ongoing debate about whether policing is a profession, simply a calling or just a job. In the United States professions are defined as occupations that have common educational requirements, national accreditation, ongoing training requirements, a single code of ethics, and exacting certification requirements. None of this applies to policing, at least not in a uniform manner.

If we were to apply the current standards for police training to the medical field we would be disheartened to learn that the term ‘doctor’ would have different meanings in different states. If everyone in the medical field was called a doctor, regardless of training, you might end up with a veterinarian when you actually need a surgeon.

The creation of the NPA opens the door for policing to become a profession. By having national standards and national accreditation, police officers in any city could laterally transfer anywhere in the country. In addition, when an occupation is raised to the level of a profession, the pay gets better.

Recent events have caused the public to have their lowest approval ratings of police in decades.frustrated police If you talk with officers it is easy to feel their frustration. They work hard every day, but still feel that they don’t have public support. Further, they state this is resulting in a lowered level of cooperation and a lower solve rate.

Because the NPA will listen to public concerns about the police and develop training programs to address them, public support for the police will improve. National certification will give the police more gravitas with the public and in court.

regionsIt is important to know that the NPA does not need to be located in only one place. It could easily be a single entity in terms of leadership, but still have regional academies. Such an approach might serve to further connect the public with the NPA and make it easier for chiefs and sheriffs to visit, since the academy would likely be closer.

The NPA would also serve a financial purpose. Local and state academies cost a lot of money to maintain and operate. moneyMany small departments cannot afford an academy at all, and are forced to accept recruits who have attended private police academies….often in situations in which the recruits had to pay for their training themselves. The NPA would largely eliminate these inequalities between departments.

Trust between the police and the public is a topic that cannot be overstated. In a democracy trust is fundamental for police organizations. humerous policeResearch shows the the single most important factor in determining whether or not the police will solve a crime is their relationship with the public. The NPA would go a long way towards building that trust. It follows then that we could expect the NPA to help improve the solve rate, furthering public confidence.

Just last week we talked with the chief of a large West coast department. He complained that all of his recruiting efforts were expensive and largely ineffective. Where in the past thousands of applicants would apply for 100 positions, these days he often has trouble finding enough qualified applicants to fill a class. The NPA will help with this by expanding the applicant field.

Returning, for a moment, to the DoD (from the previous post) and our nation’s veterans. The Pro American Party strongly supports the idea of creating a path for qualified separating veterans to go directly into the NPA.military-police In such an instance, departments could easily go to the NPA to recruit those candidates that best meet their needs. As an improvement to the current recruiting process, these candidates would already have a track record at the academy, allowing departments to be much more successful in finding good recruits as they would be able to see and compare recruits according to their department’s standards and needs. It would be better for recruits as well. Recruits would be able to evaluate all offers and go to the department of their choice.

This would not prevent departments from selecting their own recruits and then sending them to the academy. Even when departments chose to send an entire recruit class to the NPA they would enjoy substantial cost savings as compared to a local academy.