Saturday, January 05, 2008

Discipline

I am sat in front of the computer with the exceptionally cute Mabel, my family's one year old, very black and very beautiful cat, slumped on my lap. As her sitting on me is a rarity, I am loath to move. However, this means that I am stuck listening to this utterly awful phone-in that's on my mum's radio - she's asleep, so no chance of her turning it off.

Two teenagers have been knifed to death since the turn of 2008 in London. And, apparently, the solution to London's crime is Giuliani.* We need him. Or we need to put everyone who carries a knife in prison for five years, no questions, strict liability, that's it.

Let's go through this. Giuliani, having worked on the good groundwork of the mayor before him, helped to massively reduce crime. New York was extraordinarily violent. And now you're more likely to be murdered by a stranger in London than New York. BUT: you are STILL more likely to be murdered in NYC than London. There's no suggestion these teenagers who knife each other aren't known to each other, so until there is, I'm not sure Giuliani's solution is the one. Furthermore, Giuliani didn't fix the highly segregated educational system, nor the fact that only 50% of African-American men finish high school, yet 1/3 of all African-American men will have been in prison at some time. There are fundamental problems with the society there, and there has been no suggestion of how to fix these; instead, the problems have been swept into prison in the way that my cleaning simply pushes the dust under the sofa**.

Furthermore, Britain's jails are horrendously overcrowded. Horrendously. How will this solve anything if we just shove everyone in there? Recidivism rates are enormous, and prison doesn't solve offending, it just puts it off or perhaps hardens criminals.

On the other hand, I don't know what the solution is. But education (or, rather, lack thereof) and utterly poor parenting have to be part of the problem.

* For an excellent piece about him, read this week's New Yorker. Assessment=ouch.
** You really don't want to look under my sofa.

1 comment:

Adela said...

Comforting thoughts.