The End of American Crime
Nine times. Fourteen-year-old Andrew Tess saw the horrifying motion repeated nine times outside his Green Bay home: his stepfather viciously stabbing his mother with a knife. Anthony ran for help, but it was too late. Kristina Gilliam had become another victim of homicide.
It’s difficult to keep in mind the truth of the matter whenever we read the latest report on violent crime, but it’s still there: a living, breathing, precious human being has died. Perhaps it’s difficult because the truth is simply too horrid; it happened 80,000 times in the United States in the past five years. And violence in the U.S. is only one wave in a tide of crime that is rising across the globe. To the pages and pages of statistics, and for the millions wounded by violent crime, there is no end in sight.
The Gathering Storm
The literature on the subject of American crime is overwhelming in its volume and anguishing in its consequence. The nation’s first federal gun control law passed in 1934 in an effort to slow the growing violent crime rate by restricting the availability of the deadliest weapons. Until the 1960s, crime rates went down, but between 1960 and 1970, homicide in the United States grew by 77 percent. Murder was back with a vengeance.
Violent crime shot up further in the ’80s and early ’90s, particularly surrounding the crack cocaine explosion. More than 24,500 people were killed in 1991, America’s most murderous year, before zero-tolerance measures began locking up scores of criminals with long-term sentences. Violent crime generally decreased from the early 1990s until 2005, which saw the largest single-year increase in 14 years. Preliminary fbi statistics indicate another jump in violent crime for 2006.
Police across the country noticed the change. In August of last year, law enforcement officials convened a summit in Washington, d.c., to discuss what Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton called “a gathering storm of crime.” When invitations went out, the summit filled to capacity almost immediately with 170 police chiefs, mayors and other officials from 50 cities wanting to attend. Violent crime had struck a nerve.
War on Peace
The city of Milwaukee, which dispatched its chief of staff and its chief of police to the forum, is tumbling in the midst of a killer crime wave. Last summer, Milwaukee 911 operators handled an average of 1,700 calls per day—so many that police could not respond to many of them. Murder, robbery and aggravated assault (including attempted murder) shot up an average of 33 percent in 2005, leaving hard-hit residents and officials questioning why their city is suddenly a criminal ground zero.
Homicides in Milwaukee rose nearly 40 percent in 2005. Among other violence, city police responded to a strangled woman’s body found burning in a garbage bin, an 11-year-old girl gang-raped by up to 19 men and a Special Olympics participant mugged and killed as he waited for the bus. One holiday weekend saw four murders plus 24 additional shootings.
“You’ll be able to read about something even more heinous tomorrow,” one religious leader said. “People are scared” (Time, Dec. 3, 2006).
Milwaukee is one of many mid-sized cities trying to heave itself out of a bloody pool. American citizens from coast to coast are suffering, and police are troubled by some disturbing trends behind the past five years’ 80,000 killings, 2 million robberies and 4 million aggravated assaults.
Crime and Punishment
For one, criminal punishment is not working. Many police are concerned that the long-standing “revolving door” to the justice system is spinning faster now. “Re-offending takes place very quickly, within three to four months,” Milwaukee’s police chief laments. “Unless or until it becomes homicide, the offender will just go through a revolving door.” Hence, police on the street are seeing the same faces over and over again.
Even though releases are rising, the justice system is simply unable to keep up with rising crime rates. With one in 32 American adults (a record 7 million) in prison or on probation or parole, jails are admitting more convicts than they are discharging. State penitentiaries operate at an average 99 to 114 percent of their intended capacity; federal facilities at 134 percent.
This has put the median prison sentence at five years for robbery and four years for assault—and 630,000 convicts back on the streets each year. Beyond this, long-term sentences are expiring for criminals arrested during the Reagan administration and the crackdown of the ’90s, which means violent crime by repeat offenders will hit the lives of thousands more.
Atlanta releases 400 to 700 inmates per month. “All the people we put in jail 10 years ago are now back,” Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington said. “They come out of the system more hard-core than when they went in.”
The tone in some officials’ statements borders on desperation. They are realizing what the criminal justice system is: managed chaos.
Heart of Darkness
One of the most alarming findings at the d.c. police summit was that even in cities where violent crime remained the same or decreased, there was an increase in the gratuitous nature of the offenses, which were often committed over trivial things. Some law enforcement officials went so far as to say that crime has become a “sport,” with many killing for pleasure—murdering robbery victims even after they comply, for instance.
One chief of police said, “What is particularly frustrating about our homicides is that they occur for no apparent rhyme or reason. They come up over the smallest issue—someone feels disrespected. I know the pattern. I get that call that there’s been a killing and within 72 hours there are two or three more killings in this retaliatory cycle.” A horrible way for a life—no matter how misled—to end.
“It appears that today there is a lower valuation of human life,” Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said.
Law enforcement officials recognize they are dealing not only with dangerous trends but also with dangerous attitudes. Many indict pop culture as glamorizing violence and thug life, particularly “gangsta” rap music. Violent, criminal lyrics, gangster-style clothing and shirts with street slang phrases are popular even with suburban and rural youths and young adults, and are aggravating crime rates and their viciousness.
An acrid spirit of murder is in the air.
Of Mice and Men
“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Robert Burns’s line applies. Law enforcement officials are scurrying faster than mice in a maze to find solutions to some of this violent spirit’s effects—or at least to wrestle crime statistics into some sort of remission.
Many officials hope strict gun control laws, increased legislation, new juvenile programs, federal assistance, networking, parental involvement and additional funding will help them at least keep pace with violent crime.
When violent crimes in d.c. hit an average of 642 per month in 2006, Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey declared a state of emergency in the district, putting officers on six-day workweeks, teaming with a dozen federal agencies, and pouring in additional funding and equipment. “Police can take back the street with enough resources,” d.c.’s chief administrative officer said, “but the question is how do you sustain it?”
In the face of hundreds of thousands of Americans assaulted, robbed, raped and murdered every year, talk of more programs, more laws and more funding sounds like three band-aids being supplied to a victim with multiple gunshot wounds.
Law enforcement officials continue to battle crime rates, celebrating reductions of 0.3 percent in some categories and 6.2 percent in others, while grimly reporting steady increases in yet other statistics. Even the most idealistic rookie on the force has lost hope of slashing crime by truly drastic percentages. People have always murdered and always will, the thinking goes. That’s just the way it is.
Although police chiefs, government officials and city residents hope at best to save lives by the hundreds, other authorities are now working on a plan of action that they anticipate will slash violent crime by sweeping double-digit percentages and eventually eradicate it altogether.
The plan calls for a comprehensive early-intervention program beginning with young children. It includes strong initiatives to eliminate absentee fathers and establish two-parent households throughout city limits, including what are now high-crime districts.
Building on a strong familial framework that erases gang membership, truancy, drug use and prostitution, the program also provides for educational opportunities and incentives reinforced by involved parents which produce long-term stability for troubled and low-risk youths alike. The initiatives provide occupational training tailored to each child’s strengths and interests and are part of a holistic educational proposal that includes character and moral instruction.
The plan also lays out extended-year provisions for constructing crime-free urban and suburban districts that—combined with confrontational, authoritative enforcement of law—will ensure the absence of crack houses, gang-controlled “turf,” prostitution houses and other illicit activity.
In addition to early intervention and economic programs, the plan replaces today’s penitentiaries with an entirely different justice system.
The plan guarantees a comprehensive bill of rights for each citizen’s life, family and property, and handles repeat offenders strictly and efficiently in a method proven to deter and eliminate both the spirit and actions of violent crime.
Although it sounds revolutionary, this master plan is the longest-standing body of law in the world: the Ten Commandments.
Crime rates worse than some war zones around the world are burning millions while community and world leaders watch helplessly. U.S. crime provides just one glimpse at the panoramic worldwide epidemic of robbery, beatings, extortion, rape and murder. But there is hope—for you individually and eventually for all mankind.
The Ten Commandments guarantee life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness far in excess of the Constitution of the United States and its myriad lesser laws. This plan for man’s happiness focuses not on simply preventing the worst crimes, but on living an enjoyable, productive, healthy lifestyle. It guarantees abundant freedoms and rights to every citizen under its jurisdiction.
Unlike lesser legislation drafted by men, God’s law addresses human attitudes and motives—the human spirit, which in the world today is swayed by Satan (Ephesians 2:2). God’s law gets to the core of this spirit and educates man to willingly reject Satan, who inspires carnal human nature and violent crime. It also includes with it the power of enforcement necessary to establish and maintain the rule of law. God is the law enforcement Authority. He will use His supreme authority and power to crush rebellion against the letter and spirit of His command to love your neighbor.
God’s ancient and yet up-to-date body of law will soon be established over not only Americans but world citizens everywhere. Unfortunately, the “managed” chaotic fire of crime and the inferno of war described in the Ezekiel 5 prophetic forecast will rage far beyond man’s control before our society will reach the state of humility to admit that our laws and enforcement are mournfully deficient. But you can live that way of life now.
The Trumpet offers you The Ten Commandments—God’s Unchangeable Laws for a Happy Life. Request this free 100-page book to find out how “love your God” and “love your neighbor” are two divisions of a living, dynamic, up-and-coming master plan that will give you and your family a truly happy life—and spell the end of crime everywhere.
With reporting by Timothy Oostendarp