Officer Marc Santi walks and bicycles a beat in Newport, Rhode Island, as part of an "old school" Community Oriented Policing there. He shoots hoops with the kids, has coffee with the "Mrs. O'Leary's" of the neighborhood, and so on. Not being encased in the metal and glass of a squad car helps build rapport with the people. As a result, crime is down in Newport, he told us. By 40%.
Criminal Justice Professor Kay Hardesty at Pikeville College in Kentucky told us society doesn't prioritize rehabilitation for prisoners, so repeat offenses are the norm. We'd change that.
Crime Policy in Short
*To read the full crime policy paper see further below
"We believe strongly in a thing called Restorative Justice, [Schriner] said, not just dead-end warehousing." -- Rome News-Tribune, Rom, Georgia
For instance, we need much more "Community Oriented Policing" programs, and more Citizen Crime Prevention programs like: (Crime Alert, Crime Stoppers...).
With Community Oriented Policing, police bicycle and walk beats, have coffee with neighbors, shoot hoops with kids. With police being more accessible and personable, citizens often feel safer, and more motivated, to report crime, etc.
More common sense gun control laws.
In Indio California, we researched a CHIPS Program that's connected to the police department there. Volunteers get uniforms and squad cars. They cruise the town looking for infractions -- then call them in.
Peace time military to aid inner city police (in gang zones, etc.)
Calibrate more reasonable punishments for certain types of crimes.
Increased focus on "Restorative Justice" prisoner rehabilitation, instead of 'dead-end' warehousing.
The latter would include thorough psycho-social assessments of inmates to determine the need for psychological counseling, or drug and alcoholism rehab. These would also assess education and job skill levels, etc. And after determining all this, extensive and appropriate help would be mobilized.
We would also propose inmates work at various jobs (including, say, online ones like tutoring, accounting, etc.) to help pay off their "debt to society."
Tremendously stepped up focus on "healing the family" in America. It is the breakdown of the family these days that is often at the roots of a lot of crime. I told CBS News on the Monterey Peninsula in California that: If you want to heal the country, you have to heal the family. See our "Heal the Family" position paper for more on this.
Crime Prevention Position Paper
“The Worthington (MN) Globe News noted that when it comes to crime in this country, I wanted to see: ‘less.’” – Joe
“He (Schriner) wants more ‘Community Oriented Policing’ efforts and more prisoner rehabilitation.” –Ft. Wayne (IN) Journal Gazette
The following topics are covered below in relation to our crime prevention platform: 1) The Issues; 2) The Plan; 3) Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery; 4) Creative Crime Solutions; 5) “Community Oriented Policing”; 6) Citizen Action Groups; 7) Prisoner Rehabilitation.
1) The Issues
A primary focus of our administration would be addressing precipitating societal factors that lead to crime. Crime very seldom happens in a vacuum.
“Economic conditions, drugs and demographics all affect the patterns of crimes,” said Cleveland’s Chief of Public Health and Safety, Craig Tame in a Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper article.
To illustrate Mr. Tame’s point, Mark West, who developed a cutting edge prison alcohol and drug treatment program in Ohio (which became a national model), told me 80% of those in prison have committed crimes under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, or committed the crime to get more money for alcohol or drugs.
So common sense would indicate to curb crime more, more focus needs to be placed on curbing alcoholism and drug addiction.
As a former drug and alcohol counselor myself, who has worked with addictive family systems extensively, I’ve observed – time and again – that when a child is shorted emotionally by parents who are physically or emotionally abusive, or absent (because of their own alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive work habits, compulsive TV watching…), the child grows up with emotional holes. Holes they often later compulsively fill with – among other things – alcohol and drugs.
Consequently, it only stands to reason that to curb a lot of crime systemically, we have to “heal the family in America.” (I told the Salem (OH) News that one of our main concerns was the “breakdown of the nuclear family” in regard to all these addictive/compulsive issues, because it leads to such a domino effect across the board in this country.)
To respond, we have traveled extensively researching highly creative programs to heal the family. (See our: “Healing the Family” position paper.)
Also, when you have people in need in a society, some will inevitably turn to crime to fill those needs (for food, for clothing, for shelter…). And again, common sense would indicate that to curb crime even more in America, we have to establish programs, and systems, to bring more equitability. And we have also extensively researched programs across the country to affect this as well. These, too, are contained in other position papers throughout the site that pertain to helping the disadvantaged.
And to curb crime even more, we have to come up with more creative and more comprehensive policing programs. And we have to combine these with just as creative and comprehensive citizen based programs to prevent crime as well.
Just as important, we need a prison system that is about “Restorative Justice,” as opposed to dead-end warehousing. If there isn’t creative and comprehensive rehabilitation for prisoners, they will often merely become repeat offenders.
2) The Plan
To curb crime significantly we have to dramatically cut down on drug and alcohol addiction in this country. On a systemic level, we propose a series of programs to heal the family (again, see: “Healing the Family” position paper). In tandem, there must be a focus on more comprehensive, long term drug and alcohol treatment programs, which will lead to more long term recovery, and less repeat offenses – which accounts for a tremendous amount of crime.
We have to also promote much more help for those in need in society, both in the cities and in the poor rural areas, so they don’t feel as compelled to steal or act out of their anger at what seems hopeless conditions (L.A. riots, gangs…). And throughout this site we propose a vast array of multi-dimensional strategies to curb poverty.
To curb crime even more, my administration would promote more creative policing efforts and more coordinated efforts between police and the community to prevent and respond to crime.
Our administration would also push efforts to increase the pay for law enforcement officers, work to mobilize more grants for such highly affective programs as Community Oriented Policing, and we would inspire more citizen based crime prevention programs, such as: Indio, California’s “Citizen Patrol, neighborhood Crime Alert programs, citizen Crime Stopper programs…
And even as some people end up in prison, instead of dead end warehousing of prisoners, we would promote “Restorative Justice” models targeted at as much rehabilitation as possible. This would not only cut down on repeat crime, it would afford many a much better chance at life the next time around.
We have traveled the country extensively looking for creative, common sense programs to bring all this about. And we found them.
3) Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery
Since such a significant number of crimes are committed either under the influence or to finance getting more drugs or alcohol, common sense indicates we should stridently work to help people break addiction – if we want to stop more crime.
Our administration would work stridently to promote more quality inpatient and outpatient short-term drug and alcohol treatment programs, and long-term treatment programs (halfway houses, three-quarter way houses, and so on). As a former drug and alcohol counselor, I’ve seen first hand the effectiveness of treatment models that are longer in duration and more comprehensive in their treatment scope.
As a counselor at a 90-day treatment program in Lorain, Ohio, called “The Giving Tree,” I watched more recovering alcoholics and addicts able to get a quite solid footing in recovery. (The program was often a supplement to short term – 2 weeks to 28 days – inpatient treatment.) What’s more, the program addressed family issues, codependent issues, and a constellation of other precipitating factors that often are attributable to relapses.
A step beyond these 90-day treatment programs are year-long models. In Ocala, Florida, Ray Geisal has a prison ministry focused primarily on helping prisoners break addiction cycles. He told me, while on a stop in Ocala, that he believes if you divert non-violent offenders with drug and alcohol problems to intensive one-year treatment, you could free up way more of the prison system to deal much more affectively with violent offenders. At the time of the interview, Geisal had just purchased a 44-acre tract of land where he wanted to build one of these treatment facilities. (The facility would also include a working farm, to create physical and therapeutic outlets for those in the program.) Geisal added it takes approximately $35,000 to keep someone in prison for a year, and he believes a lot of that money could be better spent. We do too.
If the addict or alcoholic is in prison, Mark West believes that time could be better spent – in a prison drug and alcohol treatment program. West started the Oasis Treatment Program at the Piqua Correctional Institute in Ohio. Oasis is now being used as a national model. West has a prison-consulting firm in Fostoria, Ohio. And on a stop there, he told me that his program (which had a 95% success rate, with tracking for five years after release) has a capacity for 200 inmates and is based on a “Behavior Modification Therapeutic Model.” This includes “encounter groups” with a healthy degree of confrontation, a reward system to reinforce positive behavior, individual counseling, etc. With the program demonstrating that it considerably cuts down on the recidivism rate for prisoners, West said he showed state lawmakers that – in the long run – his program saves millions of dollars, and many lives.
To take this a step farther, our administration would welcome and promote programs like P.A.D. (Prisoners Against Drugs). At a stop in Martins Ferry, Ohio, we met with Rev. Bill Webster Jr. who helps coordinate this program in that area. P.A.D. uses inmates who are in addiction recovery to visit schools to graphically share their stories. The second part of the P.A.D. Program is for youth to visit a prison (in this area the West Virginia State Penitentiary at Moundsville) to get an eye opening tour of what could await them in choosing the wrong path. “This is one of the best prevention programs… we’ve participated in,” says Martin’s Ferry Superintendent of Schools, Steven Kish.
Our administration would seek to promote models similar to Prisoners Against Drugs and the Oasis Prison Treatment Program. We would also push for loans, grants and tax breaks to private enterprises, like Ray Geisel’s in Ocala, designed for long term drug and alcohol treatment. (Note: Both Geisel and West believe for solid, long lasting recovery, many recovering alcoholics and addicts also need regular, ongoing involvement in 12-Step recovery groups.)
4) Creative Crime Solutions
Our administration would also look to judges and the citizenry to inspire creative, outside-the-lines approaches to dealing with crime. For instance, a terribly significant issue in society is drunk driving, that can sometimes lead to offenses like vehicular homicide, etc.
On a stop at Mothers Against Drunk Driving headquarters in Dallas, Texas, that organization’s Head of Victims’ Services, Janet Lord, took me on a tour of “the wall.” As you walk into MADD’s rather expansive offices, you come face to face with a long wall of pictures: babies, teens, adults, elderly… all of whom have been killed in drunk driving accidents in America. It’s really quite staggering, and even more staggering knowing that these pictures represent only a tremendously small percentage of the total number of those who have been killed by drunk drivers.
In Columbiana County, Ohio, former bartender Wayne Zeitler has at least a partial answer, an answer that typifies the refreshing, outside-the-lines type of approach we’d welcome. Zeitler wants to see the establishment of a “drinking license.” Like driving, Zeitler told me Americans should look at drinking as a “privilege,” not an inherent right. And as one has to study to pass a written driver’s license test, it would be the same for a drinking license. Topics might include: how many drinks it takes to go over the legal limit of alcohol for your particular height and weight, the degree of slower reaction time you experience with each drink, signs and symptoms of alcoholism… Zeitler added with this system, a drinking license could be revoked for repeated incidence of drunk driving, domestic violence, drunk and disorderly conduct.
5) “Community Oriented Policing”
Our platform, at times, could very much be considered a common sense, “retro” one. That is, sometimes we think, simply, that the old way was better. And policing, in part, is one of those cases.
Across the country, some police are again “walking the beat” as part of a highly effective “Community Oriented Police” effort. In Newport, Rhode Island, Officer Marc Santi walks and bicycles his beat, shoots hoops with neighborhood kids and regularly chats with the “Mrs. O’Learys” of the neighborhood. If a kid is seen running from a crime, he said he/she is more apt to turn themselves in now because they know Officer Santi will be home having coffee with their mom, even before they get home. Crime is down in Newport, and rapport with police is up.
In Gowanda, New York, I interviewed Officer Ron Russell. He was certified in “Police Bike Patrol” through a training program for Community Oriented Policing at the University of Buffalo. He said the course covered such topics as: dealing with the public on a bicycle, bicycle nomenclature, using firearms in association with bicycle patrol, bicycle maintenance… (Our administration would propose grants to subsidize more of this kind of course around the country.) Officer Russell said when you’re virtually anonymous behind the metal and glass of a police car, every officer is “that” guy. However on a bicycle, you’re more approachable and citizens are willing to trust more.
And taking Community Oriented Policing even a step further, Officer Richard Feagan told us his police department in the Detroit area has also developed a mentoring program where each of the officers have six youth they take on for three years. The officers take the youth to recreation centers, libraries, and the like, during the week, continually talking to them about school, sports, hobbies… There is also a reward system. The youth are rewarded tickets to, say, Detroit Tigers or Lions games for good grades, efforts at good citizenship, etc. (And as an additional extension of the program, Officer Feagin also became a junior varsity basketball coach for a local school.) Police are no longer seen as “the enemy” to more youth in Detroit since this program began.
In recent years, some of the federal funding for Community Oriented Policing has been cut. We would push to re-bolster that, and work to inspire more of this program with all its dimensions in as many towns as possible.
In addition, our administration would lobby for better pay packages for law enforcement agents. These men and women put their lives on the line daily. And top priorities to support them should include: better pay, better hours, and more support on the job.
One area where this support could come from is the “peace time military.” At a stop in Yucca Valley, California, we interviewed a Marine who was stationed at a nearby base. He said he’d like to see Marines, during peace time, used in civilian police operations like, for instance, dealing with gangs in the inner city, or helping take a crack house, and so on. He said be believes many Marines would opt for these and other supplemental (and voluntary) civilian duties: “because of the boredom of just sitting around.” Our administration would back this idea, primarily because we feel it would help keep inner city police much safer – and the streets much safer.
6) Citizen Action Groups
It “takes a team” when it comes to crime prevention, we believe. And our administration would champion as much citizen involvement as possible from community to community.
And one of the models we’d promote nationwide is Indio, California’s CHIPS Program. In Indio, I talked with B.J. Lewis who volunteers with the CHIPS Program, which is connected with the Indio Police Department. She explained through a series of classes, the department trains people to be, in effect, volunteer police. They get uniforms and squad cars, but no guns. While they can’t arrest people, they cruise Indio looking for infractions, then radio them in. She said this not only helps to cut down on crime – but police burn out as well.
In Montpelier, Ohio, village city councilperson Laura Gray told us they have instated a Crime Stoppers Program. The program promotes anonymous tips from citizens (in exchange for monetary rewards) about area crimes. And Montpelier Mayor Steve Yagelski told us the town is also gearing up to start a Citizens Block Watch Program to help curb crime even more.
In Tipp City, Ohio, I researched the Crime Alert neighborhood program. (Tipp City was one of the first cities in the country to institute the program.) It features regular neighborhood meetings on crime prevention, “block captains,” and a number of other strategies to mobilize more watchfulness in regard to suspicious activity and the like.
7. Prisoner Rehabilitation
At Bluffton College in Bluffton, Ohio, I sat in on a class in “Restorative Justice.” Professor Jeff Gingerich explained that in the country of Denmark, for instance, once someone is sentenced to prison, a thorough psycho-social assessment is done on the inmate to determine if, say, they need long term psychological counseling, drug or alcohol treatment, education, job training. Professor Gingerich said the belief in Denmark is that the society should do everything possible to “restore” that person to society much better off than when they came into prison.
Our administration would agree with this philosophy. And what’s more, we believe the time in prison should be beneficial, not only for the prisoner, but society at large.
At a stop in Moriarity, New Mexico, Church of Christ Pastor John Miller told me he believed all these prisoners, “with all this talent,” are, for the most part, in dead-end warehousing. Why not have them pay off their “debt to society,” by having them work for society?
And in Tiffin, Ohio, they do. Seneca County Sheriff Scott Lantz told me that non-violent offenders with minor misdemeanors (petty theft, DWIs, not paying child support…) in this area are allowed to opt for work around town doing maintenance and grounds work at county offices, cutting the cemetery grass, doing paper work at local charitable organizations, etc. For each day worked, a day is cut off their sentence.
Our administration would back this idea and push for a broader based expansion. That is, some prisoners might be able to work ‘online’ with computers for charitable organizations, civic groups, and so on. Others might be able to work online (or in other ways) for pay, with the money going to cover crime damages, court costs, and so on. And it would be all the better if this work gave the prisoner experience that could be used professionally after the prisoner was released. Also with new technology, some inmates could serve as online educational tutors for, say, disadvantaged youth.
We would suggest other prisoners be given more latitude to do more in the prison itself. Connecticut’s Antoinette Bosco, an author and anti-death penalty advocate, told me in an interview about a restorative (if not “redemptive”) justice situation she witnessed in a New Jersey prison. A convicted murderer had repented and was now working in a prison hospice unit. Ms. Bosco said, while this man couldn’t bring back the life he had taken, he could work to support life now in a most dramatic way.
Prison reform is a topic that Professor Kay Hardesty at Pikeville College in Pikeville, Kentucky is most familiar with. He has taught about “restorative justice” the past 30 years and has helped set up various prison programs. On a stop in Pikeville, Professor Hardesty told me “we don’t always calibrate a reasonable punishment” for the crime. The reason some of the sentences are too long and some prisons are short on rehabilitation is because society simply doesn’t prioritize rehabilitation as much as it could. (Getting federal and state dollars is quite competitive, and prisons usually lag far behind schools, hospitals, and so on.)
Professor Hardesty explained if funding is going to change for prisons then peoples’ perceptions about criminal justice (and the prisoners themselves) need to change. And there would be more of this perceptual change, said Professor Hardesty, when more people saw the inmates as more than just a number, so to speak. To that end, Professor Hardesty said each semester his students visit courts to watch sentencing, visit inmates in prison, and do projects like collecting toys at Christmas for prisoners’ children to help. (Our administration would tout this project and try to inspire similar college and community prison projects across the country to help change the perception.)
Note: At a campaign stop in Waynesboro, Tennessee, I interviewed Dan Schachle, who was a former guard at a maximum-security prison in the area. He said, more often than not, the prisoners he observed came from dysfunctional families. And it was his belief we must reform prisons and reform families. And as mentioned earlier, our administration would agree.
“When the bible talks about visiting those in prison, does that just simply mean: visit? Or does that mean to ‘visit’ them with as many creative ideas as possible to help turn their lives around?” –Joe
"Drug Court" Director, Needles, California
photos by Joe
Read Joe's blog entry on "Drug Court".