In the overwhelming majority of cases, the term “crime” is defined as the violation of the rules, established in the society or as the breach of existing legislation. At first, glance, such a definition seems to be quite appropriate. However, it disregards a very important aspect, the cause of crime. It is worth mentioning, that there exists a slightly different view on this issue, we can even say an unorthodox one. Some sociologists and criminologist believe that in 80 percent of all crimes is the normal reaction of the human being to the abnormal conditions of life.
We will write a custom Essay on Crime Prevention Program specifically for you
301 certified writers online
This idea seems to be a dominant one if we are speaking about crime prevention. One should eradicate the cause of the problem; however, very often the government focuses on the consequences, which is certainly fruitless, especially regarding the long-term effects of such policy. The main purpose is not to punish the criminal or violator but to prevent him from committing a crime. According to this premise, the country should build its policy. However, the conflict or interrelation between punishment and prevention remains unresolved.
Regarding crime in the United States, it is quite possible for us to say that it is relatively higher than in other developed countries, especially Western European countries. There are three kinds of crime rates, violent rate, homicide rate, and property rate. According to the data, published by the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, the total crime rate in the country has considerably decreased over the last five years, although the situation still leaves much to be desired.
The current crime prevention program, launched by the government of the United States (namely by the National Crime Prevention Measures) is aimed at encompassing a considerable scope of activities. To some extent, It is a set of programs, which covers a great number of aspects, such as economical, cultural, educational, and domestic causes of crime. It is possible to single out two types of prevention measures, secondary and primary prevention efforts. We should give this issue extra attention. Primary prevention efforts mostly focus on the factors, which may stimulate a person to commit a crime; Secondary prevention usually implies intervention with the risk groups. It would be better to show, how it is supposed to work in everyday life. In addition to that, we should analyze the factors, which necessitate such measures.
This crime prevention program, launched by NCPC is based on the so-called crime triangular. In the majority of cases, each crime contains three elements opportunity, ability, and desire (perhaps the word “necessity” would be more appropriate in this case). A person who has a chance to commit an offense with impunity is very likely to do it. If this opportunity is supported by desire and ability, the offense is practically inevitable (Champion, 33).
Judging from this crime triangular, the government should take the following steps, first, it is necessary to eradicate the very necessity for committing a crime (no one will voluntarily violate existing rules if it is not beneficial). Secondly, the risk of arrest should be increased. The final step is to make committing a crime more difficult. This aim can be achieved in several ways; for example, the government should extirpate the economic causes of crime such as low income and unemployment. It will not be an exaggeration to say that the root reason for crime is money. Regarding the ability to commit a crime, we should mention the following aspect, moral ability, or even permissibility of violating the rules. As a rule, this issue is addressed by the family and school. The final step is to increase the risk of apprehension. This is the domain of law machinery, especially the police force. The program, launched by the National Crime Prevention Council is supposed to deal with all the sides of the crime triangular. Our task is a task to show how all these issues are reflected in the new program and ascertain, whether these measures are successful.
Crime is always a multi-faceted notion because it has many origins. We can single out several important crime factors such as economic, cultural, domestic, and educational. As far as economic factors are concerned, one should mention poor conditions of leaving, low income, and unemployment. It is obvious that people with low income are more inclined to commit a crime. At first, such a statement may seem like a truism. However, the numbers seem almost catastrophic. For instance, according to the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, 75 % of the crimes, committed in the urban areas of the United States are caused by financial reasons. Usually, these are property crimes, such as robbery, burglary, car theft. Although very, often they are accompanied by violence (Sherman, p. 79).
Another important factor is educational problems, especially regarding youth delinquency. The main problem is that such phenomenon as gangs has practically become an inseparable part of school culture. Despite the fact, that every attempt is made to eradicate it, its presence is still very palpable. For teenagers, deviation from the rules seems fashionable; it gives them that very strong delusion of power and independence. Educators have always tried to prove that it is a very common misconception.
If we speak about crime as a cultural phenomenon, we should mention that street gangs are usually perceived as something quite normal, something that has always been a constituent part of Americas culture. It has become some means of self-expression. Teenagers, in particular, want to prove that they are different from other people. This desire to look different has many manifestations, for example, deviant behavior or even delinquency (Kelly, 91).
Additionally, one should never forget the domestic factor: family relationships can sometimes be the most important stimulus for the teenager to break the rules. Domestic violence can only trigger another form of violence. A teenager, who is abused at home, is more prone to joining a gang, for him (or her), it is a way of protecting oneself or herself. Judging from the statistical data, seventy-five percent of young offenders are regularly mistreated by their parents.
In conclusion, it should be mentioned that one should not separate these factors from each other, because they are often intertwined, and create a single entity.
Now that we have discussed the major crime factors, we should analyze how the crime prevention program addresses these issues. For instance, we may start with school-based crime prevention. First, the Department of Health and Human Services intends to increase graduation rates, which will make students pay more attention to their studies. Secondly, strict measures are to be taken to reduce weapon carrying and fighting. Additionally, many schools of the United States launched cultural sensitivity programs, because the underlying reason for school delinquency and violence is racial conflict. We should also mention after-school programs, which serve two purposes: first, they increase academic performance and secondly prevent students from juvenile delinquency. Moreover, teachers engage students in various in-school programs that require their interactions. Such programs make students more tolerant of each other. As regards the effectiveness of such measures, one can see the results vary.
Among such programs, we may mention Drug Abuse Resistance Education also known as D.A.R.E. The members of this non-profit organization give lectures about the harmfulness of drug abuse, tobacco smoking, and alcohol consumption. This organization draws students attention to the danger of conformity because this is one of the reasons for joining a gang. It is estimated that the rate of delinquency, especially in schools, has dropped over the last four years (for example the level of violent crimes was reduced by 32 percent). However, one should bear in mind that school, as an institution cannot be wholly responsible for the development of the teenager.
Regarding, family-based crime prevention measures, we should mention family therapy, which helps parents and their offsprings to establish healthy relationships, however, the effectiveness of such measures can be easily questioned, because, the parents, who do have problems with their children are often reluctant to admit this fact. It is believed that Strayhorn and Weidmans parent training is rather beneficial, this is a home visitation program. It is stated, this program is supposed to attract parents attention to the needs of their children. Moreover, it was supposed to discover the instances of domestic violence, because it is the main cause of youth delinquency.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
Such home visitations programs also imply intervention with high-risk groups. For example, parents, who are suspected of child abuse (high-risk parents), can be temporarily arrested. It is very difficult to measure the effectiveness of such programs because they can only contribute to the overall effect. Nevertheless, such an organization as PACES states that such phenomenon as domestic violence is still very acute nowadays. According to the statistical data, provided by this organization, almost thirty-five percent of juvenile offenders were abused at home. Therefore, we can arrive at the conclusion that some amendments should be made.
As it has already been mentioned, the most important factor is the economic one, especially unemployment. Among the measure, taken by the government to reduce the crime rate, we can single out supply-side programs, in other words, providing legitimate jobs to the so-called “at-risk individual”. Some sociologists say that job training programs could have been more beneficial if they had provided wider prospects for at-risk groups. The main problem is that they give only underpaid jobs.
However, special emphasis is given to police, because it is viewed as the most expedient means of crime prevention. The widely held opinion, that the increased number of police officers results in the reduction of crime rate, has been questioned. Special emphasis is now placed on the efficiency of police workers, especially reacting to the emergency calls, relationships with the community. According to the new program, policy should pay more attention to the patrolling of the streets and specific deterrence. The Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics states that the percentage of criminal cases solved has increased by 5, 5 percent in 2007. Yet, it is not clear whether we can attribute it only to the effectiveness of the police force(Robinson, p. 66).
It stands to reason that this crime prevention program has its advantages and disadvantages. First, this set of measures attracts primary importance to juvenile delinquency, which is great, because the true cause of deviant behavior lies in the family. Special emphasis is given to educational and cultural programs; however, some aspects are not quite clear. For example, how can we define “at-risk parents”? What are the major criteria for assessment? It is often stated that family therapy can be rather helpful, but can it really be imposed on “at-risk” families or it should be voluntarily.
The new program emphasizes the role of educators in the crime prevention struggle. It is necessary to take into account that such a task requires additional training for teachers because dealing with “high-risk” is a separate field of pedagogy. Probably, a collaboration between judicial and educational institutions is needed, because such separate efforts are often fruitless.
Another drawback that we can mention is the insufficient financing of supply-side programs, as it has already been mentioned the jobs provided to an at-risk individual are often underpaid. In fact, they sometimes turn into sweatshops and employees have to work long hours under poor conditions. Consequently, people often resort to crime, just because they see no other choice.
The special attention, given to the effectiveness of the police force seems to be quite a prudent step. However, it is not clear how this policy can be implemented, because it lacks consistency. Naturally, police offices should undergo additional training. In addition to that, according to this program, the bonds between the community and police should be strengthened. The question arises, in what way it can be done. Probably, the government should establish some institution, which would serve as a mediator between police and the local community. Moreover, one may ask what exactly the local community is, and what this notion comprises.
Another aspect, which undoubtedly should be explored, is the attitude of society to crime prevention. People often focus their attention on the punishment of the criminal, but not the prevention of the crime itself. Although everyone believes that crime prevention is necessary, an average American citizen does not know how exactly he or she can assist in addressing this issue.
Undoubtedly, in the near future, some amendments will be made to improve this program. First, it seems prudent to increase funding for the supply side and training programs, because the problem of unemployment is a very acute one in the United States. Secondly, it is necessary to bridge the gap between law machinery, in particular policy and community organizations. They often act separately, which makes their attempts inefficient. Extra should be given to parent education; probably such training programs should be compulsory for “at-risk” parents. Additionally, it is necessary to define who can be called a “high-risk” individual. How can we define such a notion?
Thus, we arrive at the conclusion that crime prevention programs have to encompass a wide range of aspects, such as economic, cultural, and educational. Furthermore, such a program requires close collaboration of various governmental institutions. Finally, the attention of the public should be drawn to this problem. American society must see the importance of crime prevention especially in comparison with punishment. It is necessary to make a clear distinction between these two notions.
- Dean John Champion. (2006). Crime Prevention in America. Prentice Hall, 2006.
- Deborah Mitchell Robinson. (2001). Policing and Crime Prevention. Prentice Hall.
- Lawrence W. Sherman (2007). Evidence-Based Crime Prevention. Routledge.
- Robert J. Kelly.(2007) Handbook of Organized Crime in the United States. Greenwood Press.