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To Establish Justice, To Insure Domestic Tranquility: A Thirty Year Update of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence

NCJ Number
Lynn A. Curtis
Date Published
148 pages
The National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence updates its findings 30 years after its initial formation (1969) and offers recommendations for a current response to violence in America.
America's failure to reduce endemic fear and violence over the long run is paralleled by its failure to establish justice. As a result of the racial bias in mandatory sentencing systems, especially for drugs, one of every three young African-American males is in the prison-industrial complex, on probation, or on parole in America at any given time. In large cities, the ratio is about one of every two. There is a new "triumphalism" about crime among politicians and the media that is misleading. This triumphalism exaggerates the role of tough sentencing and "zero tolerance" policing and underestimates the role of explanations that may be more important, such as the economic boom and the related waning of the crack epidemic. Prisons have become the Nation's substitute for effective public policies on crime, drugs, mental illness, housing, poverty, and employment of those most difficult to employ. A new "grassroots federalism" is needed in which the Federal Government identifies sufficient resources to replicate what works to a scale equal to the dimensions of the problem. Funding priority must focus on replicating to scale investments that have proven their worth through scientific evaluations. To help finance what works, programs that do not work must be terminated. To support what works, there must be a macroeconomic policy that gives top priority to eliminating child poverty and generating full employment for the most difficult to employ in the inner city and in pockets of rural poverty. Federal and local policy must shift from prison building to cheaper, more effective community treatment alternatives. This report also gives attention to the entertainment media and violence as well as firearms and violence. Appended statistical trends on fear and violence