A report issued by the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation for the Prevention of Violence, a nonprofit research group that grew out of a well known commission created in 1968 by President Johnson, has concluded that the nation has moved backwards because of misguided crime policies and remains "a society in deep trouble," the Los Angeles Times reported on December 5.
The report said that the widely publicized decline in crime rates of the past seven years has resulted primarily from high levels of prosperity, and masks a failure to grapple with the fundamental causes of violence in today's society. The report pointed out that violence is much more common today than 30 years ago in the U.S. or in most other industrialized nations today.
Among the wrong policy choices that have contributed to continuing violence, said the foundation, is a national preoccupation with hard-line policies -- building prisons, waging the war on illegal drugs and creating "zero tolerance" policies toward criminals, which have come at the expense of longer-term solutions such as early intervention programs for troubled youth, job training and drug rehabilitation programs. "Prisons have become our nation's substitute for effective policies on crime, drugs, mental illness, housing, poverty and employment of the hardest to employ."
The report also blamed a doubling in the number of guns, to 200 million, and the continuing problem of poverty and lack of economic opportunities for large segments of the population, noting that more than one-quarter of U.S. children live in poverty.
The report, titled "Violence Commission Update," can be obtained from the Eisenhower Foundation by calling (202) 429-0440, or writing to The Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation, 1660 L St., NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036.