Wasting Time on Crime: Prevention Vs Apprehension

Education and opportunity are the biggest deterrents to crime, not more police squads or hanging. 

Illiteracy is a breeding ground for ignorance, deprivation, lack of opportunities, prosperity.  It also ranks higher in countries stained by low socio-economic advancement, crime, poverty, injustice, corruption and incompetent governance.  If the literacy rate is not very high, you see far more living below the poverty line. Education is the foundation for the economic prosperity of a nation.  Education is an important factor contributing to social harmony, peaceful existence and a safer society.  A high number of uneducated people living in abject poverty often turn to illegal activities/crime to solve their problems and maintain life. If you are educated, you are far more aware of your rights and the laws of the land, which helps to prevent or protect you from abuses and also creates more possibilities for justice.  Doubt it? Ever seen the kind of abuse and injustice meted out to the poor, uneducated men and women? 

The main connection in this article speaks to a direct connection and indisputable link between education and crime in our society.  It is known, and seemingly sadly accepted, that we place far more emphasis on FIGHTING crime than taking steps to prevent crime, while our focus on education is more blame buck-passing and budget burning based.

The memories of many old enough to recall can easily attest to fear driven into the very bone marrow of men hearing the name of a police unit from the 1970’s, “Eradication Squad”.  As the name suggests, it was supposed to ‘eradicate’ criminals and drive fear into those not yet caught.  This period of policing placed more emphasis on crime fighting, and very little on crime prevention.  It is reasonable to say that even law abiding citizens feared an encounter with this squad.  These efforts did little to quash crime, and in fact, crime went from dangerously pedestrian to perilously pointed civil war.  Several years later, police squads were created aplenty, many with names aimed at again creating fear in the minds of many, among them ACID.  This did little to reduce crime, and throughout these periods, the addition of several other crimes along with murder significantly increased. 


As we look at the picture of national safety and security in 2015, we still have a sea of announcements for the creation of more police squads, and a serious amount of murders of citizens.  The number of children murdered is climbing, rapes, robberies and the long list of other crimes, some recently made popular such as ‘scamming’ is still a serious threat to national safety.  Simply put, we have been FIGHTING the scourge of major crimes, criminality, and unlawful behaviour for FORTY YEARS without much success.

A policeman places markers at a crime scene on Delamere Avenue, St Andrew - Image via
A policeman places markers at a crime scene on Delamere Avenue, St Andrew – Image via

During this same forty year stretch the emphasis on improving education to maximum priority and performance at all levels has been less than a priority, being replaced with significant funds found for national fun and frolic locally and internationally, repayment of debt, mass corruption, and of course, boosting the resources of the police to fight crime.  Added to that is the “lack of resources” anthem attached to required social and economic issues.  In the bigger scheme of things every nation and its citizenry has almost the same lot of basic needs, and all those who have failed to make these needs available on an equitable basis have shown little progress and an existence tied to anarchy.  While education doesn’t guarantee an elimination of social ills, it is safe or even factual to state that countries who have made it a number one priority have all shown progress and in many cases, are the leading countries in which one can reside and accomplish much on all levels.

“Necessity knows no law” is a saying commonly bandied around, but ignored for its wider perspective and application relevant to crime.  A man who cannot buy bread for his family or find a way to honestly work and pay for it, might in a moment steal a loaf…not because he is by design a criminal or petty thief, but he has become severely compromised by desperate times and measures.  This has nothing to do with justification, but more to do with mere reality.  Too many times we can cite examples of how many we know who came from deprivation and didn’t give in to unlawful acts, without TRULY knowing stories or being totally honest.  The fact that a parent stole a small portion of food from an employer and brought it home for dinner without revealing the instance of theft is common.

Educated people are considered highly reputable in society. Note my emphasis on “considered”, since they don’t necessarily have to end up being persons of integrity.  Education gives you the confidence to express your views and opinions. Education helps you become an active member of the society and participate in the ongoing changes and developments.  Education helps to prevent exploitation.  Education allows you to make your own decisions, or at least have an informed say if more experienced persons are acting on your behalf.
Education is a must if we want to reduce and greatly eliminate differences between different social classes and genders.  Education plays a major role in women empowerment.  The more educated you are is the more options for the future you have at your fingertips.  No one is born from a factory creating criminals.  Criminality is taught, learned, bred and fed. 

One that is clear in Jamaica, and many other countries like this, is the sure knowledge of political powers that preside and prevail how much easier it is to take advantage of illiterate people, while relying on them to be the foundation and supportive base for keeping them and the entire nation at ransom.  If we fail to make education the number one priority we will not only be fighting higher numbers in crime, but we will all become the number one priority for criminals.

Rodney S. O. Campbell ©

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