Fighting Crime and Spreading Hope

Question: For many years, Jamaica's murder rate has been among the highest in the world. What have you done to reduce crime?

Bruce Golding: Since May, we have mounted a concerted, intensive law-enforcement program that has proven to be very effective.  We have, since May, reduced the murder rate by 42%, and it continues to decline with each succeeding month.  But we have to do more.  Crime doesn’t take place in a vacuum, it takes place in a context where there are what we call "unattached youth," which are young people who are not in school, they are out of school, they are not trained, they are not qualified, they don’t have the ability to secure a job, there are not sufficient opportunities available for them.  They become ready recruits or conscripts into criminal enterprises.  And therefore we have to provide hope.  We have to provide opportunity.  We have to provide an alternative way of life.  And this involves a whole renewal program of basic skills training; micro-enterprise development.  Going into these communities and mobilizing them into constructive, wholesome activities.  It involves cultural activities, sports. 

But importantly, we have to provide them with a future.  That is going to require a lot of effort, a lot of resources.  We have appealed to our international partners to work with us on this, and they have responded; commitments have not yet come in, but they have certainly indicated their anxiety to work with us on this. 

This is a process, it’s not a deal.  It’s not something you can do by simply passing a law.  It’s not something you can do by simply voting money in the budget.  It is a process that has to be worked through consistently over a number of years, but we are beginning that process now and we’re going to be measuring it as we go along.  We feel that with the assistance we are getting from the multilateral agencies that we will be able to benefit from the best practices that have been applied in other countries.  In the United States, for example, many of your cities have faced this problem and you have dealt with it.  And we need to learn, how did you manage to do it?  What were the success factors?  How can we replicate those in Jamaica?

Recorded on September 25, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman

Jamaica has been one of the more dangerous countries in the world for years, but an intensive anti-crime push has brought the murder rate down 42% since May. To fight crime, says Golding, you need to give young people a future.

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