The first tool of crime prevention in the hands of the prosecutor is the jail cell. The violent and dangerous criminals must be aggressively prosecuted and taken off the streets. While prosecuting those offenders will always be a priority, I believe another important role of the chief prosecutor is to try to work with community actors to reach our young people and help them to never turn to crime in the first place.
Education in our public and private schools about crime, drugs, and our court system is an important tool to prevent crime from increasing 5, 10, and 15 years from now. Teaching our kids about the negative effects of drugs on their lives and on society in general might save your child from falling into that trap that ensnares and captures so many of our young people today.
However, for many children with parents who enter the criminal justice system, simply educating them through the school system and other isolated contacts is insufficient. If a child is surrounded by bad role models in a home of drug users, absentee parents and criminal influences it is quite difficult for even frequent lessons and first-hand observations about the consequences of drug use and crime to resonate with the child.
As your Commonwealth’s Attorney I will be present, visible, and regularly visit primary and secondary schools. I will welcome classrooms to visit the courthouse and observe the system first-hand. But for those children who are being raised in crisis circumstances we must try to do more to drive the message home and help ensure they never become criminals in the first place. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
2. Community/Non-Profit Engagement
To that end, my office will spearhead innovative and effective measures to eliminate the seeds of crime in our young people before they blossom and take root. My office will take advantage of community programs which aim to help socially isolated and single mothers and fathers in crisis have a stable place for their children while they get services. These services teach, among other things, how to properly handle adverse external circumstances and raise his or her own child despite those circumstances.
Innovative programs which address issues such as these are needed to service both the child and the parent. Intersecting with a child’s life for an hour or two a week will not achieve the desired results if they spend the rest of the week in the same difficult circumstances he or she has always had to live in.
The role of community non-profits in this process is vital. Organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, local religious institutions and any other collection of concerned citizens will be supported by this office in their endeavors in this area. As your Commonwealth’s Attorney I will aggressively prosecute criminal offenders, but it is in the long-term best interest of the city to save as many of our children as we can from becoming criminals in the first place.