Lately, there has been any number of comments, posts and threads about “the crime problem” in Jamaica. In this case, “the crime problem” relates to violent crimes, especially murder. Some just express disgust at the problem and look to pass blame and others have suggested supposedly “successful” ways that can combat crime.

Over time there have been any number of simplistic “solutions” to this problem and the one that a number of folks seem to favor is the “restoration of capital punishment”, a.k.a “bring back hanging”. Another one is “let’s arm every law-abiding citizen” because that will certainly reduce the crime rate. I’m reminded just how much these simplistic answers sound so much like the GOP’s answer for all of America’s economic woes: “cut taxes and fewer regulations”. They sound and feel good but they are not addressing the underlying causes of our problems.

What any number of these folks fail to see/look at is the fact that the institutions tasked with crime-fighting and the administration of justice in Jamaica are deeply flawed and or have major issues that have not been effectively and adequately dealt with over these many years now.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is not as professional as it could and should be and does not enjoy and engender the respect, trust and support from the Jamaican public to any great degree. It is understaffed, under-resourced and overworked and its leadership has been and is being questioned about it being up to the task of making it a better and more effective crime-fighting entity.

The national security minister, like the police commissioner, is also being questioned as to whether or not he’s up to the task of implementing a crime-fighting strategy rather than the ad hoc “strategies” that everyone seems to come up with in reaction to those really egregious criminal events.

Then there is the fact that Jamaica has a basically stagnant economy that shows no sign of growing at any rate one can even think of politely calling “robust” anytime soon. When combined with the lousy overall leadership the country has had, and not enough in the way of social intervention, why should/would anyone seriously believe that arming every law-abding citizen and/or bringing back hanging is/are the panacea to Jamaica’s crime problem? The capital punishment statutes are still on the books in Jamaica, by the way.

If one bothered to look at those countries with the highest violent crime rates one would also see that corruption is also a major issue in just about all of them. Ask just about any Jamaican if corruption is a big problem in Jamaica and he/she will answer in the affirmative.

Want to do something about crime? Fix the problems with the legal system; reform the JCF to make it more professional; provide the JCF with the resources needed for it to better fight crime; more social intervention from the Government of Jamaica, community based organizations and non-governmental organizations and grow the economy more robustly. When more folks are gainfully employed and when more of the population can find better, more creative and peaceful ways of resolving issues then it’s highly likely that the “crime problem” will no longer be such a big problem. It’s going to take all Jamaicans to address and fix this problem.

What is not needed is a return to the wild, wild west days where everyone is packing, and resolving problems always meant a shootout.

Categories: Opinion

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