Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Reflections on the Dover killing.
Sep 4th, 2007 by David Anderson

http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200770901016

Kenneth Riddick will forever be 16. The Dover community is in mourning. Spontaneous memorials are popping up like fall flowers of affection. It is the number 1 topic of discussion. Kenneth was a well adjusted and well liked young man. He stayed far from trouble until one day it found him while he sat in a suv. The killer was a convicted rapist who was wanted by the police for not registering his address.

What is chilling to the Dover community, unlike the other recent crimes, is the fact that it shatters the illusion which says if you do the right thing you can avoid being a crime victim. It makes us all feel a little unsafe and unnerved. I hear parents talking about keeping their teens from downtown. If that comes to pass, it will severely hamper renewal efforts.

I would like to ask what can we do. It doesn’t seem to matter where you go. We are slipping backward on the scale distinguishing between civilization and barbarism.

I am going to take a page from my liberal friends and suggest we start tackling root causes.

I submit there are 5 root causes. The despair of poverty, the breakdown of the family, the legacy of racism, ineffective dealings with repeat offenders, and a lack of a public mental health policy.

I will justify each of these later. Here is a quick pitch. People commit crimes from every station of life, but those who grow up thinking they don’t have a future do not develop ties to the broader community and commit a disproportionate number of crimes. We have no strategy for public mental health. This means we do not invest in helping people deal with their hurts before they explode into anti-social behavior–Virgina Tech. How many articles have been written on the impact of the never formed family? Institutionalized racism stole hope and opportunity and replaced it with despair and anger. Its legacy is still felt and used by the smart criminal to convince people they have no skin in the American game therefore they have to take what was stolen from their ancestors. The remnants of racism still affects lower education, employment, housing patterns, health care, and criminal justice. Most crime is committed by people who committed other crimes. We haven’t much of a clue about rehabilitation.

What are your solutions?

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