Let’s deal with the root cause of crime

Irina Mossi Love Detective

The horrendous crime in St James where five women who were raped,
including an eight-year-old girl, is a topic that might be more than a
nine-day wonder this time around. I am of the opinion that rape is a
crime of hate and never a crime of ordinary lust. Whenever the
perpetrators are brought to justice if they survive to that time, I am
sure that the law will have its course. But clearly that is not enough.
The society has to change or the problem will come up again.
The argument of those who want the death penalty for the perpetrators
is that they will not be able to do that again. That is very true,
provided that the actual perpetrators are caught. However, only those
who would get the death penalty would not do it again because it has not
always been a deterrent.
The late John Maxwell used to remind his readers that in the Middle
Ages in England pickpockets were hanged in the market and while that was
taking place, pockets were being picked. His opinion was that the only
deterrent is fear of being caught.
It is therefore incumbent upon the police to make the criminals know
that they will be caught. Unfortunately, it is quite clear that they
have not been able to convince the criminal element that they will be
caught despite all the radio and TV advertisements. Still, even if they
will be caught, there has to be a plan in place to create a country
where people will not become prone to criminality.
It is like going to a doctor. Usually, the doctor’s first move is to
stop the pain. Then he goes to what needs to be done to make sure that
either the complaint does not return or at least does not do so for a
very long time, if possible. At least, that is my layman’s reading of
the method of medical doctors, having been on an operating table four
times in my life so far.
Bringing the criminals to justice deals with the pain alone. But
there needs to be some surgery, or the problem will keep recurring. Look
at what has been done since 1966 when there was a limited state of
emergency for western Kingston.
In 1974 there was the establishment of the Gun Court. Then between 1976
to 1977 there was a year-long state of emergency. Later there was the
Suppression of Crime Act.
Throughout all that time from 1966 there have been “curfews upon
curfews upon curfews”. Like a cold that keeps recurring, cough medicine
alone is clearly not enough. And what we have been applying to our crime
over the last 50 or so years is, in a manner of speaking, “cough
What have we done to stop the corrupt “Henry Morgan” culture that goes
back to the days of the governorship of that pirate? What have we done
to insist on healthy family life? This is not to belittle the efforts of
individuals who have done a lot and who have been frustrated because
there has not been sufficient will on the part of successive governments
to see to it that the laws are enforced or to put more teeth into the
So all youngsters go to high school these days. But what sort of
values are being inculcated in the schools? Why are there not more
boarding schools to enforce a certain discipline in a nation? Why have
there not been more programmes to promote unity in the community and in
employee share ownership?
Why haven’t the citizens in this supposedly democratic nation insisted
that these things be done? Is it because they do not really want them to
be done or are not mature enough to do what is needed? I have often
written that one of my hobbies is to phone someone I know, read
something to him or her, and ask them to guess when it was written.
Usually they say it was written last year, five years ago or even 10
years ago. When I tell them that it was written in 1948 or 1950 they
And it is the same with the crime problem. As someone who is constantly
doing research and is addicted to old newspapers and magazines, I never
cease to be amazed that the crime problem and its solutions have been
written about for several decades or even centuries, complete with all
the proposed solutions that we still hear about.
But in Jamaica we have a “chatocracy” (a word whose coinage is
attributed to Delano Franklyn). And the “chatocracy” does not really
want to take the necessary steps to curb crime. Real development has
nothing to do with infrastructure and tall buildings. It has to do with
advancing people. It was Pope Paul Vl who wrote that there will be no
peace without development.
In Jamaica it means the development of family life, the development
of the collective and individual conscience and the development of real
social justice where every Jamaican citizen can have real shares in the
commanding heights of the economy. It also means recognition that men
are men and women are women and that both should respect the gender role
of each other as well as each other’s natural and constitutional
Michael Burke
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