Keeping Kids from Crime

Commentary by Pete du Pont

Why is there so much juvenile crime? Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis says there are two reasons.

First, more young people grow up as barbarians without absorbing the minimum ethics needed for civilized society. And second, crime pays. Even if they're caught, the price is usually low.

What can we do about it? Again, two answers.

First, rebuild internal restraints by getting kids off welfare, instilling self reliance, offering school choice, lowering barriers to entry-level jobs, and strengthening the family.

But it's not enough to stress that crime is morally wrong. Criminals have to pay. Unfortunately, the juvenile justice system doesn't deliver.

I'll credit the government with good intentions. The system was designed to keep juveniles away from hardened criminals by keeping them out of jail. But the law of unintended consequences took over. Making jail time unlikely teaches kids contempt for the law and disrespect for the rights of others.

Obviously, we don't want ten year old shoplifters thrown in with experienced criminals. But we can establish a series of correctional facilities that separates violent from non-violent criminals, and first-time from repeat offenders. With so many options for judges to choose from, kid criminals will know going in that there's an excellent chance they'll be behind bars if convicted.

Until then, our criminal justice system will simply create criminals.

Well, those are my ideas. And at the NCPA, we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.

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