I was reading a Tribune story on the Governments Project Re-entry program the other day. This program is focused on reducing recidivism by ensuring that criminals are successfully assimilated into society after serving their time.
The following quote was attributed to the Minister of National Security, Tommy Turnquest,
The Bahamas is challenged by the unacceptable level of crime in our country. Prison statistics reveal that more than 90% of those involved in crime are male; approximately 9 out of 10 are Bahamian nationals; 2 out of 3 are under the age of 35 and fewer than 25% admitted to prison have a high school diploma.
The Government’s goal is to improve the quality of life and the standard of living of all our citizens, including those, who, for one reason or another, find themselves incarcerated in prison. The prison is required by law to ensure that all suitable inmates are taught a trade and that they are exposed to educational opportunities, particularly those inmates who are in need of remedial education.
This quote practically stopped me in my tracks.
It immediately occurred to me that we know exactly what our problem is and how to fix it, but instead we are focused on the wrong things.
The key to solving our crime problems can be found in the first paragraph of the Minister’s Quote;
- 90% of Criminals in The Bahamas are male
- 90% are Bahamian Citizens
- < 25% have a High School Diploma
- No criminal SUDDENLY becomes a criminal!
Every Single Criminal was once a child, a young boy, an adolescent teenager, and a young adult. I believe that if you look at every stage in the life of a criminal, you will see clear signs that they were headed for a life of crime.
Our problem is that we have no national apparatus in place to catch and redirect these young males at an early age or at any stage of their development.
Now, I’m sure many of you can point out programs here and there. But what I’m talking about is a National Strategy specifically for catching at risk youth and redirecting them to productive activities.
This is where our government has failed and why I blame crime on The Minister of National Security and The Government and not on parents, churches, or society’s ills (although they play a role).
We need to focus our resources on reaching young males and ensuring that they have every opportunity to become law-abiding and productive citizens. BEFORE THEY BECOME CRIMINALS .
Read the second paragraph from the Minister’s quote again. Doesn’t it make sense to do what he says before they ever become criminals?
Why do we wait until they
graduated leave school, choose a life of crime, THEN try to ensure they have the tools necessary to join civilized society?
Every child should have access to programs that allow them to be the best that they can be. Programs that monitor their progress and produce red flags if they show signs of going down the wrong path.
A system that will ensure that they receive the attention necessary to become successful citizens.
If we are to see long term reduction in crime we need to focus on ensuring that the young males of this country receive the guidance they need early on in life and also graduate high school.
It’s so obvious that Its baffling that our leaders have not done it already.
The way I look at it is that every child growing up should have no difficulty finding productive activities to be a part of. What ever they’re interested in they should be able to engage in with minimal difficulty.
Whether that is baseball, basketball, swimming, boxing, soccer,volley ball, musical instruments, track and field, tennis, debate, art, ANYTHING! It should be the norm that every child must be registered in at least two character building programs.
These programs should be government sponsored (but not ran) and required to focus on building strong character qualities such as team work, work ethic, fairness, drive, responsibility etc.
These programs would monitor the child’s progress and be responsible for reporting red flags in the child’s development.
How Much will Something Like this Cost?
I don’t know. But I know that whatever the cost, it will be cheaper than letting more of our young males grow up to be rapists, robbers and murders.
Do you think this approach could work?