“When people look at a dangerous violent criminal at the beginning of his developmental process rather than at the very end of it, they will see, perhaps unexpectedly, that the dangerous violent criminal began as a relatively benign human being for whom they would probably have more sympathy than antipathy. Perhaps more importantly, people will conclude that the creation of dangerous violent criminals is largely preventable, as is much of the human carnage which follows in the wake of their birth. Therefore, if society fails to take any significant steps to stop the process behind the creation of dangerous violent criminals, it tacitly becomes an accomplice in creating them.” (Lonnie Athens)
Two Key Questions
Question 1: Why are violent people violent?
Question 2: What would it take to dramatically reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured as a result of criminal violence, including gun violence?
Two Key Answers
Serious criminal violence is a natural result of human adaptation to violent experiences and a violent environment—violence breeds violence.
Learning: People do what they know.
Trauma: Hurt people hurt people.
Violence is (or is like) an infectious disease. Trauma from experiences with violence is the primary carrier. To dramatically reduce violence, dramatically reduce and effectively treat violent trauma.
Solving a problem starts with understanding the problem—the right problem.
Attached is a strategy paper outlining many of the essential elements of an effective antiviolence strategy, some of which may be new or represent paradigm shifts for some people.
Every section of the paper could easily (and perhaps should) be expanded into a chapter of a book. Hopefully, however, the paper and referenced resources will provide a conceptual framework around which to flesh out effective solutions to the gun violence and other serious violent crime plaguing Chicago and some other areas in Illinois.
One thing is for sure: if violent crime were a disease and imprisonment were the cure, at our current rate of imprisonment we would be an almost crime-free society. We are not. Quite the contrary.
As they say, the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things and expecting different results. If we want different results, then we must make serious changes in our approach to criminal justice and public safety, including dramatically reducing our gross overuse and misuse of imprisonment.
The deeper I get in studying and analyzing the problem, the more I keep coming up with four solution buckets: trauma, jobs, incentives, and educating the public.
This strategy paper is aimed at helping fill the public education bucket.
My antiviolence strategy paper (click this link) covers the following topics:
Situation Report: The Big Picture
Chicago Homicide Rates
Chicago Clearance Rates
Making it Real: Criminal Justice System Reform
“Prisons Are Crime College”
Four Solution Buckets: Trauma, Jobs, Incentives, Educating the Public
Lonnie Athens’ Theory of “Violentization”
High End of the Violentization Scale
Lower End of the Violentization Scale
Central Role of Schools
Parenting Education, Especially for Children Raising Children
Antiviolence Group Resocialization
Antiviolence Community Associations
The Wrong Target
The Right Target: Secondary Gun Market
Some Practical Solutions
Community Policing and Problem-Solving Policing
The Problem on Which All Else Hinges: The Resource Riddle