The city of Prichard is using a new strategy to combat crime. The city has begun placing cameras in its streets to keep an eye out for would be criminals. Prichard has seen a rash of fires started in downtown businesses, and the new program is aimed to stopping those and other crimes. The surveillance program is modeled after one started in Selma, Alabama.
While any effort to combat crime is welcomed, this method has some Orwellian overtones that are a bit disconcerting at first glance. Many areas around the US have begun using such techniques, including traffic cameras that catch motorists speeding. Video surveillance was one of the weapons of choice for the totalitarian government in George Orwell’s famous novel, “1984″. Citizens should keep a watchful eye on this trend in the future.
The best method to combating crime in places like Prichard is to combat the root of the problem, which is poverty. The War on Poverty is a long term problem that will have to be fought over decades, but that is the only thing that will solve the crime problems in the long run. Security measures help in the short run, but criminals will always find ways around them.
Poverty is the number one cause of crime. For the most part, people do not steal for the thrill, they do so because they have no money. Poor upbringing, usually brought about because of poverty, is another cause. Our social safety net has kept people from starving to death and even gotten a lot of people health care, but it has done little to promote upwards mobility and lift the poor out of poverty. That is where our long term focus needs to be.
Anyone who wants to be tough on crime should be a soldier in the War on Poverty. That is the base problem that has to be solved if we really want to lower crime. We spend far to much money on the Corrections Department and putting people in jail, rather than trying to prevent criminal behavior in the first place. It is an inefficient system that we can not afford in the long run.