Almost every day we read about violence in the inner city and we lament that it exists. We try to control it by outlawing guns and those who possess them with the eternal hope that the violence will abate if we only reduce the accessibility or the possession of firearms. Sadly, we cling to that thought because no one has given us any hope that there are other means to reducing violence rather than gun control and gun abatement policies.
“It’s the culture” some cry. “Why doesn’t somebody do something” is the question on the lips of many. The simple facts are that no one cares enough to solve violence in a comprehensive way.
So let’s begin by saying that we all know that 80+% of personal violence is committed in a few square miles of the largest of cities. There are maps that show crimes by zip code and clearly demonstrate where violence congregates. Look here for a few cities and you will see what I mean. Use the Advanced feature to remove all crimes against property and leave crimes against people and you will see islands of crime in every major city. Try Chicago and look at crimes in the University area for the past year compared to other areas.
This establishes that violence islands do exist but politicians and city officials have not figured out how to deal with it. Well, in truth, they deal with it by keeping ‘it’ confined to a certain island in the city.
In a second fashion, we know that Nature and Nurture influence how we behave. There are hardwired behaviors in people that cause them to act in certain ways. Those actions are enhanced or reduced by the environment that surrounds the individual and by the “rules” we learned as children. The nurture part of the equation needs consistent reinforcement to maintain control over the hardwired behaviors. In a ‘good’ neighborhood, the consistent good nurturing is repeated and in the ‘bad’ neighborhood, the consistent bad nurturing is repeated.
Third, we know that society and the government has never attempted to change bad neighborhoods into good ones. What they do is reactive and not corrective or preventive. They incarcerate the individual and fail to change the neighborhood. This has gone on for centuries.
Our first question is ‘Should society care about the islands of violence in every city?’
Our second question is ‘What authority over people should our government have to reduce or eliminate the islands of violence?”
Our third question is “What methods and approaches would have the greatest impact in reducing a single island of violence significantly?
Frederic Taylor demonstrated that any change in an environment will provide a temporary improvement in a measured behavior. He studied people’s productivity, made changes in the environment, and then measured the results. The Principles of Scientific Management is his contribution to the study of how people act and react to their environment.
If we apply Taylor’s concepts to island’s of violence then we should see temporary changes in violence if we increase police patrols but ultimately the levels will return to their former status. The same could be said if we use any reactive method to violent crime (vigilante-ism, incarceration, increasing sentencing, more laws and more patrol cars) .
To change people’s behaviors for the long term, a change in values is required. And to change the values, we need to change the interactions among the people. And to change that, we need to change the people. The first step to changing the culture of violence is to remove the ‘hardwired behavioral problem people with poor nurturing’ from the remainder of the population. Interestingly, this is one result of a three strikes law. It removes a habitual criminal from society and incarcerates him for a longer period of time.
I recall that Minneapolis police noticed there were residences that had significantly more police calls than others. By working with landlords, they forced these habitual offenders to move to new and different areas by not renewing leases or forcing the tenant out. The change in location had a permanent impact on the crime recorded for the address and a temporary impact on the overall crime rates of the individual. I don’t know if those ‘relocation’ influences had a permanent impact over the years but it would be nice to think so.
Chicago built a rail system from downtown to Chicago O’Hare to ensure that city folks would not be distressed in going to the airport by driving on the freeways and to ensure that O’Hare had a supply of less expensive city labor to work in O’Hare, the cry of the suburbanites was that this would only “bring crime to the suburbs”. I don’t know if that is what happened but that was the fear at the time. Everyone appears to know that crime can ebb and flow with the quality of the people in an area.
Where do you put the hardwired bad behavior people? Good question. We are going to have to answer that one and it will likely be an uncomfortable answer. To my knowledge, there is no method to change the hardwired nature.
The second part of reducing violence in the Archipelago will be nurturing the remaining population. Life coaches, job training, and reinforcement will be needed to give them an opportunity to pursue a life without crime.
The third part is that government will have to shoulder this burden through a generational project to change behaviors. And before you scoff, this is exactly the message and the meaning of the reign of Christ in Revelations. Biblically speaking, removing the hardwired bad behavior people permanently is God’s solution, too. (Shh, don’t tell anyone.)
But until that time, what should we do with the Inner City Archipelago?