A key task for this committee was to review the evidence and determine whether and by how much the high rates of incarceration documented in Chapter 2 have reduced crime rates. In assessing the research on the impact of prison on crime, we paid particular attention to policy changes that fueled the growth of the U. We are mindful of the public interest in questions regarding the relationship between incarceration and crime.
Introduction As Catholic bishops, our response to crime in the United States is a moral test for our nation and a challenge for our Church.
Although the FBI reports that the crime rate is falling, crime and fear of crime still touch many lives and polarize many communities.
Putting more people in prison and, sadly, more people to death has not given Americans the security we seek. It is time for a new national dialogue on crime and corrections, justice and mercy, responsibility and treatment. As Catholics, we need to ask the following: How can we restore our respect for law and life?
How can we protect and rebuild communities, confront crime without vengeance, and defend life without taking life? These questions challenge us as pastors and as teachers of the Gospel. Our tasks are to restore a sense of civility and responsibility to everyday life, and promote crime prevention and genuine rehabilitation.
The common good is undermined by criminal behavior that threatens the lives and dignity of others and by policies that seem to give up on those who have broken the law offering too little treatment and too few alternatives to either years in prison or the execution of those who have been convicted of terrible crimes.
A Catholic approach begins with the recognition that the dignity of the human person applies to both victim and offender. As bishops, we believe that the current trend of more prisons and more executions, with too little education and drug treatment, does not truly reflect Christian values and will not really leave our communities safer.
We are convinced that our tradition and our faith offer better alternatives that can hold offenders accountable and challenge them to change their lives; reach out to victims and reject vengeance; restore a sense of community and resist the violence that has engulfed so much of our culture.
Crime and the Catholic Community Many of our parishes dramatically reflect the human and other costs of so much crime. The church doors are locked; the microphones hidden. Parishes spend more on bars for their windows than on flowers for their altars. More tragically, they bury young people caught in gang violence, the drug trade, or the hopelessness that leads children to take their own lives.
These parishes reach out to prisoners and their families, offering help and hope to those caught up in crime and the criminal justice system. They also struggle to respond to the needs of crime victims: As bishops, teachers, and pastors, we seek to offer a perspective inspired by our Catholic tradition to the national discussion on crime.
For us, crime and the destruction it brings raise fundamental questions about the nature of personal responsibility, community, sin, and redemption.
A distinctively Catholic approach to these questions can offer society another way to understand and respond to crime, its victims, and its perpetrators. We approach this topic, however, with caution and modesty.
The causes of crime are complex. The ways to overcome violence are not simple. The chances of being misunderstood are many. In developing these reflections, we have consulted with Catholics who are involved in every aspect of the criminal justice system: In our parishes, schools, and Catholic Charities agencies, Catholics see firsthand the crushing poverty and the breakdown of family life that often lead to crime and at the same time care for prisoners, victims, and their families.
All of their experience and wisdom has been helpful to us. As bishops, we offer a word of thanks and support to those who devote their lives and talents to the tasks of protection and restoration: We call on others to join them in a new commitment to prevent crime and to rebuild lives and communities.
As ordained ministers committed to service, deacons should be especially drawn to the challenge of Matthew Many Catholics help to prevent and control crime, especially among our youth. No one can take the place of parents, but grandparents, pastors, coaches, teachers, mentors, as well as neighbors, parishioners, and community leaders all help to guide, confront, and care for young people at risk.
At the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that some Catholics have been convicted of theft and drug dealing, spousal and child abuse, even rape and murder.
In fact, it is reported that more than thirty-seven thousand federal prisoners 30 percent of the federal inmate population 1 are baptized Catholic, many more Catholics are in local jails and state prisons, and hundreds of thousands are on probation or parole.
Catholics can also be found among white-collar criminals whose illegal actions in businesses, financial markets, and government halls seriously damage our common life and economic stability.
All those whom we consulted seemed to agree on one thing: All of these committed people spoke with a sense of passion and urgency that the system is broken in many ways. In light of this, we seek to do the following in these reflections: Some argue that high incarceration rates and tougher sentences have made the difference.
Others point to community policing, economic prosperity, and fewer young people. Experts do not agree on the determining factors, suggesting that many forces, taken together, have contributed to this decline.
But regardless of their impact, not all methods of reducing crime are consistent with the teachings of the Church and the ideals of our nation.Since the mids, the United States has pursued aggressive law enforcement strategies to curtail the use and distribution of illegal drugs.
The costs and benefits of this national "war on drugs. In October , the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at per , of the national population. Appendix Suggestions for Action. The Catholic community has a tremendous history and capacity to help shape the issues of crime and criminal justice in the United States.
Since the mids, the United States has pursued aggressive law enforcement strategies to curtail the use and distribution of illegal drugs. The costs and benefits of this national "war on drugs. More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition (Studies in Law and Economics) Third Edition.
The New York State Office of the Attorney General (NYAG) is committed to preventing gun violence across New York State. It does so through its statewide gun buyback programs, defense and enforcement of New York’s gun safety laws, and aggressive disruption of violent gangs and gun trafficking rings by its Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), which has recovered hundreds of crime .