Punishment & Crime

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  • Well, unfortunately I feel compelled to talk about the subject of violence today. With the constant murders in Chicago—and the fact that today is the anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination—I must.

    President Obama visited his adopted hometown of Chicago a week ago to address the relentless violence that took 535 lives in 2012.

    In his remarks, he spoke about how he quote-unquote “screwed up” as a youth just like a number of the young black men in the audience but the difference was that he had more of a “safety net” there to catch him. He went on to say he was no different from them, and that what was different were the consequences young black men suffer today.

    You know we often talk about crime and punishment, but how about punishment and crime? I mean, isn’t crime a result of subjecting children to a punishing environment where they feel they have no hope, no value, no chance at success, or even adulthood?

    Before they are even old enough to think about committing a crime or, God forbid, taking a life, aren’t many being punished for being poor, being from a single-parent family, or being in constant survival mode?

    You see, it’s easy to be ‘tough on crime’ and big on punishment. But if we were truly tough on crime, wouldn’t it be better to stop punishing our youth before they commit a crime in the first place?

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