David Kennedy tells the Crime subcommittee of House Judiciary that it’s time to start acting on what we know about reducing concentrated gang-related and drug-dealing-related violence:
Gang violence and drug crime is an obscenity, but so is mass incarceration.
When law enforcement feels that communities have utterly lost their moral compass, they will not think to work with or influence communities. When communities feel that law enforcement is part of a conspiracy to destroy them, they will not think to work with or influence law enforcement. When offenders are seen as primitive “super-predators” to be “weeded” and “exiled,” neither law enforcement nor communities will think to work with or influence offenders. When networks of offenders tell each other that they are not afraid of prison, not afraid to die, and have to shoot those who disrespect them, then they will act accordingly.
If, ten years ago, the medical community had discovered a way to reduce breast cancer deaths among middle-class white women by 70%, every hospital in the country would now be using that approach. We have learned something that profound about this kind of crime problem. We should act like it.
This isn’t a partisan issue — Kennedy’s approach is too tough for the sort of crime-control “doves” who think that the most important crime problem is police misconduct, but too soft for the “lock-’em-up” crowd — but right now the Democrats seem to be responding more quickly than the Republicans. Now that the voters have learned how empty Republican claims about protecting the national security are, it would be great if they lost their edge on crime control, too.
I’d like to see Sen. Obama grab this one fast. As it happens, Chicago is home both to an unusually bad problem and to one of the more marked successes in dealing with it.