Pubdate: Wed, 08 Apr 2009
Source: Goldstream Gazette (Victoria, CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Black Press
Author: Daniel Tourigny


Re: Time to get tough on gang violence, Column, March 13, 2009.

Ms. Schoenit offers one possible strategy when it comes to
unwantedviolence: getting "tough." As if all we need is to get bigger,
angrier andmeaner and the criminal element will be scared off by the
hard-pounding fistof the law.

But it doesn't work that way. More jails, more police, more punishment
- - allfear-based attempts at curtailing the effects, not the causes -
of gangs andgang violence.

"Get tough" policies were espoused repeatedly by American politicians
duringthe 1980s and '90s. Their policies roused the people's emotions
and got themelected, had more jails built, put people in prison for
longer periods andvastly increased the budget for law

Now the U.S. has the highest incarceration numbers in the world,
minoritiesare vastly over-represented and guns and violence flourish.
I would hardlycall that justice system a success.

It's natural to be angry when innocent people are hurt. But
vengeanceagainst the perpetrator only leads to more displacement of
thedisenfranchised, who in turn have all the more reason to see
themselves atodds with the rest of society.

Why not put our political and societal will at addressing the roots of
gangviolence? Things like insane drug laws, prisons which seek only to
punish,dysfunctional families and a lack of meaning and a sense of
belonging inyoung peoples' lives. Why not put resources into programs
that are shown toeducate and empower? A happy and fulfilled teen isn't
likely to join a gang.

It is high time we take a different approach to crime and violence. If
wetruly want a peaceful and loving society, we must adopt policies
thatpromote these values. Compassion is the cure.

Daniel Tourigny

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