Last week in a letter to the Sun-Times Susan J.Rose a professor from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Board Director of Haymarket Center Chicago, came spinning out of the turn with her take on America getting tough on crime. Her Title was "Tough on Crime- Incarceration hurts families along with offenders." She goes on to list a litany of the many hardships that criminals and their families endure when a family member is incarcerated for criminal acts. To name a few of course is the already sparse family involvement of the father being absent from the home and being involved with the rearing of the children. Some figures say over 75% of some families are missing one or more parents from the home. When that happens of course that Role of Role model and mentor is filled by the local gangs in some of Chicago's neighborhoods. Another hardship according to Professor Rose of course is the financial hardship caused by no income to the family to sustain a decent living. She further states that once incarcerated just being able to visit or talk by telephone is a monumental problem. In her entire way of thinking she in my opinion neglects the proverbial Elephant in the room.
Professor Rose's defense of the Criminal and their families and the impact incarnation has on their lives never once mentions the devastating impact of the VICTIMS of criminal behavior. It's not unusual for Academic's to zero in on a cause and become advocates, after all, it's mostly done in controlled environments and most always omits what is known as the other side of the coin. Im my 33 years working as a Chicago Cop on Chicago's streets I have personal up front knowledge and experience on the devastating effects of criminal behavior. Hundreds and hundreds of murderers and shooters, carjackers, armed robbers, burglars, thieves and scores more who have preyed upon victims of criminal behavior and their loved ones by those who thumb their noses at our laws and shun any type of decency that makes up a civilized society.
There is a movement right now in our country to shun the victim and concentrate on the RIGHTS of the criminal. In Cook County and Chicago alone one can look to the epidemic of murder and shootings in which 1 in 20 homicides and shootings are cleared. Cleared being an arrest, not including a conviction, which in most cases after all the evidence is in and the trial commences makes that 1 in 20 even more horrific to contemplate.
If we just look a the rather benign crime of shoplifting in America which is a $42 billion dollar problem for American consumers because in the end that cost is passed on to us. In the last few years at least in Chicago one would have to shoplift a Yacht to get a felony conviction and do prison time. One of the criteria being in order to qualify for a felony charge a person has to have 10 prior felony convictions for shoplifting, or steal an item costing a thousand dollars. In my experience no booster pants ever was made to fit a thousand dollars of merchandise. A dazzling catch 22. In Suffolk County Massachusetts the newly elected States Attorney didn't even try for the old Razzle Dazzle, she just announced that shoplifting will no longer be prosecuted, along with 15 other crimes she deems to hard on the criminal and of course their families. Not even a teeny tiny mention of victims and the impact they suffer.
Im my humble opinion, and it is humble, I realize Professor Rose never saw the impact that crime and violence has on victims and their families as I have. If she had any idea at all she never once included them in her studies and advocacy for the incarcerated and their families. I for one firmly believe that that expression "IF YOU DO THE CRIME YOU DO THE TIME" is not as distasteful as professor Rose believes it is. A person who commits crimes has to be held accountable for their own actions and bad decisions. If you don't want to go to jail and impact not only your own existence but also that of your family and friends then" IF YOU DON'T WANT TO DO THE TIME AND HURT YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS THEN DON'T DO THE CRIME. DUH!
I can tell you from experience that no matter the crime, the VICTIMS suffer far greater then the criminal offender, who should have given his family some thought before choosing to break the law. Our court system is in place for a reason and it's most certainly not to provide comfort for those who commit criminal acts. They and they alone are impacting their families and loved ones, not our Criminal justice system. Accountability by those among us who commit crimes is a must if we are to live in a decent society. To not punish criminal behavior is to invite more of it.
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