Eliminate Lead in the Water Supply
There has been a substantial decline in crime across the country since the elimination of lead in gasoline as well as other efforts to control lead exposure in the environment. It is even possible to suggest that the majority of crime reduction we’ve seen is due to the reduction in lead exposure of children and not by any significant redesign of policing tactics or increase in police resources. Lead exposure at a young age causes neurodevelopment issues and neural damage which result in problems like ADHD, intelligence decline, and increased aggression and violent tendencies.
Though we have made significant gains in removing lead from our environment there is still considerable exposure risks left including in older structures like homes and schools where lead paint remains. An even greater consideration is lead in our aging water supply systems. This was in the news most prominently with the Flint water crisis. At the peak of the Flint water crisis 5% of children tested had elevated lead levels. As can be seen in this map of data collected by Reuters, all of Richland county has reported above 5% in recent years and parts of Mansfield have been at 30%.
This is a travesty that must be rectified. By investing the resources in ensuring clean drinking water for our children we can reduce crime rates and increase our collective intelligence. This is my top priority for reducing crime especially since reducing lead exposure leads to a reduction in violent crime, particularly murders, which are not easily combated with other policing tactics. This is the richest country on Earth, the least we can do is ensure we have clean water and stop exposing our children to lead.
Problem and Community Oriented Policy
It is my belief that to most effectively reduce crime police should both work with the community and focus on dealing with repeated crime issues in a holistic, proactive manner. How exactly this is done I don’t intend to dictate, I devolve that decision making power down to the city and community level. What this does require is that more resources be made available to the police to reduce crime. This will be done with an expansion of budget but more importantly a reallocation of resources. Specifically, less resources will be wasted on the militarization of the police and less resources will be used fighting the war on drugs. As resources are put to better use and violent and property crimes are solved at a higher rate (did you know that these crimes are solved less than 50% of the time?) crime will be reduced as certainty of punishment increases.
I am opposed to mandatory minimum sentencing. I believe one of the great things about the American justice system is its common law heritage. Our justice system is not entirely a top down directive from our legislatures but a bottom-up system influenced by lawyers, judges, juries, and cases of significance. Judges should be allowed to determine what punishment best fits the crime taking into full consideration the circumstances and the individual.
Decriminalization, Marijuana, and the Opioid Crisis
It is time something were done about the drug problem. It is clear that sending hundreds of thousands of people to prison for possession and use of drugs is accomplishing nothing but costing the taxpayers billions and ruining lives. Our prisons are full of nonviolent offenders. Police spend an inordinate amount of crime on drug busts which contributes to the low success rate in solving violent and property crimes. Our focus should instead be on treatment and ending addiction. All drug use should be decriminalized such that the possession of small amounts does not result in a prison sentence but instead treatment and community service.
Recreational and medical marijuana should be legalized fully. No more resources shall be spent enforcing its prohibition. Taxes will be levied on its sale. Medical marijuana will be used to treat a range of illnesses. Many of its uses are not in its THC and do not result in a high. It is purely for medical purposes and should be fully legalized. It will also be much better in treating pain than prescription opioids which have led to thousands of overdoses and the current opioid epidemic we’re facing in our homes and in our streets. Full resources should be made available in fighting the crisis, in reducing the supply of legal and illegal opioids (with a harsh crackdown on the pharmaceutical industry), and in proving care and treatment for those facing addiction and overdoses.
Economic Growth and Ending Poverty
The most effective and easiest path to reducing crime is in swift economic growth and eliminating poverty. Being raised in poverty and living in poverty is a significant source of criminal behavior. Evidence suggests that simply alleviating this poverty in children will greatly reduce crime rates and quickly bring children who had been living in poverty to the same criminal rates and educational achievement of their non impoverished peers.
A swiftly growing economy offers much more desirable alternatives to crime as a way to get by and reduces the recidivism. It is much better to bring people into the workforce, to make them productive members of society, than to send them to prison. Cynically, wages and unemployment are kept low by the prison industrial complex. Imprisoned people are not counted among the unemployed so when a prison is built in an area (and sentencing goes up to fill the cells that the government pays private prison companies to run) unemployment will fall. So too will wages as the prison system has been used as a reliable source of cheap or even slave labor since the abolition of slavery. This is bad for both the economy and society and must be reversed. Economic growth will lower crime and the prison population while lowering crime and the prison population will spur economic growth. It is a reinforcing cycle of progress. Our problems must be tackled simultaneously for us to reach our greatest success.