By anguillian September 14, 2015 11:10 Updated

There is an outcry to stop crime in our society but do we really mean it? Do we really want to stop crime in our community? Too often there is a lot of talk and little or no action for the things we wish to see in our society. Everyone wants crime to stop, but crime cannot stop by itself. Policies and treatment programmes must be put into place if crime is to be managed or eradicated in any society. We have to begin to put our money where our mouth is. No number of round-the-table discussions, or marches, are going to serve any useful purpose if they are not backed up by tangible and meaningful interventions.
There needs to be a philosophy and guidelines for managing chemically dependent criminal offenders within a community-based network of services. All stakeholders: policymakers, judges, magistrates, attorneys, security personnel and treatment providers have to work together in dealing with the problem of crime. There has to be an understanding of crime and what drives it. It is this knowledge, and understanding of the various issues, that will enable all stakeholders to focus on the primary issues, make coordinated decisions, and work cooperatively to implement policy that will tackle the issue.

The guidelines have to be used by each member of the criminal justice team to assure consistent, coordinated and effective services. Everyone must work as a team in order to realize effectiveness and change. Each entity has a role to perform if things are going to work.
Policymakers: need to write effective policies for managing chemically dependent criminal offenders.

Police Officers: need to assure that their procedures at the time of arrest and court appearance provide the basic information necessary to support a treatment alternative programme.

Judges: need to perfect their strategies for using legal pressure to interrupt a pattern of crime and addiction.

Attorneys: need to plan their prosecution and defense in a way that motivates offenders to get serious about using treatment alternatives to interrupt the pattern of crime.
Parole and probation officers: need to coordinate their monitoring activities with treatment providers to assure offender compliance.
Treatment providers: need to provide services to chemically dependent offenders that focus on interrupting the pattern of alcohol and drug use and crime.
Working together, this coordinated interdisciplinary team can use treatment alternatives to lower recidivism rates, relieve pressure on the court system, deal effectively with a growing prison population and coordinate parole and probation activities.
There is the need not only to get tough on crime, but to get smart about crime. Getting tough on crime should mean taking alcohol and drug related crimes seriously and being willing to do what is necessary to stop the pattern on crime. Getting smart means that one must recognize the relationship between crime and the alcohol and drug problems that contributed to the crime. Punishment alone by locking offenders up will not stop the pattern of criminal behaviour, but punishment, appropriately linked with treatment alternatives, will.

We cannot get serious about dealing with alcohol and drug-related criminals without getting serious about the alcohol, drug abuse, and antisocial personality traits that cause or contribute to the criminal behaviour. Drugs, antisocial personality, and crime go hand in hand and must be dealt with together. This means therefore that getting tough on alcohol and drug–related crimes require us to get smart about treating alcoholism, drug dependency, and antisocial personality traits that cause or contribute to the criminal behaviour.
If we are indeed going to do something meaningful about crime, we need to invest meaningfully into all areas in order for it to work. Training of all officers involved in that process, and resources to do an effective job, must be provided. There is no easy fixes. That definitely will not work. Every sector must be fully equipped for the task at hand. We can no longer operate in ignorance. There is too much at stake. The price is just too high for our fragile economy. Locking up offenders or addicts without treating their addiction and underlying antisocial personality traits has proved to be a failed strategy. Punishment alone will not stop criminals with criminal personality disorders from committing new crimes once they are released. Criminal personality disorders are deeply entrenched patterns of criminal thinking and behaviours. Unless these are dealt with by treatment, offenders may temporarily comply with living a responsible life, but will go back to their criminal lifestyles as soon as the immediate threat of consequences disappears.

Hence a call is going out to government, and the entities concerned with crime, to think seriously about what it calls for in putting an end to crime in our society. Criminals will not respond to threats and punishment. The answer does not lie in meetings, marches, building more jails and detention centres, hiring more police and probation officers or handing down more punishments. Those do little or nothing to address the real problem. Let us begin to take the crime issue in our community seriously and do something tangible and meaningful about it.

Remember: The man that does not fear punishment, little regards crime and he who helps the guilty, shares the crime. Norman Macdonald & Publilius Syrus.
-About the Author: Mrs. Marilyn Hodge owns and operates the Wellness Centre in the Farrington, Anguilla. The Centre offers Counselling Services by Appointment Only. Contact information: 476-3517 or email: marilynb@anguillanet.com.

By anguillian September 14, 2015 11:10 Updated


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