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In the book Body Count: Moral Poverty and How to Win America s War Against Drugs. By William J. Bennet, John J. DiIiulio, and John P. Walters, we learn about crime on the streets, the causes, what is being done to reduce it, and what should be done to end it. Our authors state that crime is a result of moral poverty. They define moral poverty as the poverty of being without loving, capable, responsible adults who teach right from wrong. ( Bennet 1996) throughout this paper I will discuss the major points of this book, what the authors believe the primary cause of crime is, and what can be done in treatment and corrections to address the major issues of crime.To start the book contains many, many statistics to back what the authors are saying. To keep with in the constraints of the paper, I am going to present the author s ideas without the statistical data to back it up. I feel that the statistical information presented is true and needs not to be presented again.The authors say that the reason crime spawns is because of moral poverty. In a world of child abuse, broken homes, murder, rape, drug trafficking and abuse children have no choice but to repeat what they see. The one thing that keeps children from becoming criminals is the nurturing support of adults around them. Without this positive adult role model to teach the difference between right and wrong, the child learns how to get along in life any way possible, no matter who or what gets in their way. Children are little processors that learn and repeat whatever they experience. When all they see is crime, they tend to repeat the crime and thus become criminals themselves. In addition to how criminals come to be, we also see that today s youths are the youngest, biggest, and baddest generation any society has ever known. (Bennet 1996) Our authors call this new wave of criminals Super-Predators. They have no remorse for anything they do. Nothing is sacred to them. The only thing that drives them is sex, money and drugs. These criminals have surpassed being in a knife fight once a year to being involved in a drive-by shooting every night. In addition to moral poverty, alcohol and drugs feed into the criminal mentality. Not to say that alcohol drives people to crime, but most people prone to crime escalate their criminal tendencies with the consumption of alcohol. The most prevalent crimes committed under the effects of alcohol are those of violence. Our authors make the judgment that easy availability increases consumption and consumption increases the incidence of disorder crime and other incidents (Bennet, 1996). Therefore, what can we do reduce alcohol consumption without prohibition? Probably the best answer to this question is to raise the price. With the increase in price of alcohol, consumption by youths will decline and thus so will alcohol related crimes. Another way to reduce the consumption of alcohol is to reduce the availability of alcohol. Our authors show the correlation between high crime areas and the number of alcohol outlets. The less the number of alcohol outlets the less the crime rates for the area. So a reduction in places to purchase alcohol will lead to less violent crimes.The next major point discussed in the book is the restraining and punishment of street criminals. We learn of some disturbing facts about our criminal justice system in America. There is a correlation between crimes punished and crimes committed. The harsher the sentencing of convicted criminals the less crime is committed. Is this to say that punishment is a deterrent of crime? Yes it is. Yet, we see more and more criminals sentenced to parole and probation, which is viewed as a token punishment. A large percentage of these criminals go back into society and commit more crimes. The people who are given parole and probation are violent criminals who already have been convicted on numerous charges. Another fact about the prison inmates is that almost half of them are spending time for crimes they committed while on parole and probation. This is not to say that we should eliminate parole and probation all together. It would be too costly and many offenders do not recidivate while in these programs. Still some serious reforms need to be made. The problem with these programs is that they are too lenient. The average amount of money spent on a probationer is around $200. In addition, probation officers are not to blame for the problem because their caseloads are too much for anyone to handle. What our authors say we need to do is keep offenders in prison longer and devote more resources to the system for probation. We need a separate law enforcement agency to oversee probationers and keep them from committing future offenses. Our system today needs to be stricter and more confined to deter future offenses.The next main point is drug abuse and the correlation between drug abuse and crime. Our authors say that drug use is a catalyst to crime because it makes young men, young women, and even children morally irresponsible. (Bennett, 1996) For criminals, drugs cause their crimes to be more severe and easier to commit. Drugs add to the moral poverty in this country because they make every other social problem much worse. They increase child abuse, infant mortality, violent crime, prostitution, poverty, family disintegration, economic decay, and the spread of HIV. (Bennet, 1996) However, this problem with drugs is not unbeatable.
During the 1980 s drug use declined dramatically. During this time, more resources were spent to teach kids to Just say no. and it worked. With a more liberal government, things took place to change the downward spiral of drug abuse in this country. There was a change in opinion about how much of our national resources should go to drug education. There was an 80% drop in funding to The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). A more liberal government replaced the Reagan and Bush era with investigations into the legalization of drugs. Attorney General Janet Reno felt that drug crimes were treated to harshly with mandatory sentences complaining that too many drug dealers are in prison. The number of drug offense prosecutions dropped 12% in just two years. The number of ships and aircraft devoted to drug interdiction were slashed by 50%. In addition, legislation passed more lenient laws allowing trucks to enter this country from the southwest without inspection. Not a single pound of cocaine was confiscated from more than two million trucks that passed through the three busiest entry points along the southwest border where federal officials say most of the drug enters the country. (Bennet, 1996) To beat this problem, we need to look back and repeat some things we were doing simply because they worked. It is time to take back control of our country. We must take a strong position in the war against drugs. Our authors give us some ideas we need to do to stop the drug epidemic and thus reduce moral poverty. First, we must teach our children that drug use is bad. If we do not teach this, children will think that drug abuse is not bad and follow all those who were and now are addicts. Second, we must put open-air drug markets out of business. These markets open the door for addiction because they are always there ready to sell drugs. They also show that the community tolerates drug sales and use. Our government must also take action. They need to impose sanctions against foreign countries that provide drugs to our country. The longer the United States allows these countries to get away with this, the stronger they become and the harder it will be to stop them. The government also needs to make drug interdicting a top national security priority. We have one of the most powerful militaries in the world, if we get them out and about stopping drugs coming into the country it will cease. Even the most powerful drug lords are no match for the U.S. Military. Finally, we need to destroy the drug trafficking organizations inside our country. Our authors feel that the attorney general should be responsible for reporting on all known drug trafficking organizations and deploying federal enforcement personal to destroy their operations. Government could also impose a policy that would generate funds for federal drug enforcement agencies. All of the problems in our country come back to moral poverty. We need to strengthen our bonds with our children to become safe and respectable community. With the moral deterioration of our society come horrors that were unheard of fifty years ago. Today jails contain more people than ever and church enrollment is at an all time lowest. It is our duty to come back to religion and resolve any and all problems we have. Religion is our one defense against moral poverty. Our authors say the good needs constant reinforcement and the bad needs only permission. (Bennet, 1996) Such things like the legalization of abortion, has led us to believe that going against the moral fiber of our forefathers is OK. True religious faith enlarges the human heart; inspires us to revere and honor those things that are worthy things of our attention; reminds people of their basic responsibilities and commitments; provides society with are liable moral and social guardrails; helps the impulse of compassion take on the name of action; and allows the eyes of our heart to see our fellow citizens not merely as body count statistics or as enemies or aliens or other but as moral and spiritual beings, as children of God. (Bennet, 1996) References Bennet, Willian J. John J. DiIulio, and John P. Walters. Body Count: Moral Poverty and How to Win America s War Against Crime and Drugs. NY: Simon and Shuster, 1996.
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Moral Poverty. EssayMania.com. Retrieved on 12 Oct, 2010 from