REPORT #517 September 2002

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

There are two issues regarding the crime debate in Belize. The first issue is why is crime going up?

Second issue, why is crime going down in the USA and Germany?

( the crime debate )

Been a few arguments about why crime in Belize is going up. But how to make it go down? Looking at the USA and Germany, it is because they passed tougher laws with longer incarceration times. Presuming the percentage of full time criminals is 10% of the population and because they are successful, then otherwise ordinary folks will commit crimes of opportunity and need, whereas they wouldn't otherwise. In Belize it sure seems that crime is fully 50% of the population now. Or about 40% of the population are committing crime because the criminal 10% are getting away with it. Crime has been found in the USA and Germany to be habitual, repeat offenders, a small annoying percentage of the population. Something instinctive, or genetic?

You have the three strikes you are out law in the USA. You also have mandatory 20 years if you use a gun in a crime. So, a huge section of the population is now sitting in little cages in penitentiaries incarcerated for the next 20 years. By this method, crime in the USA and Germany has gone down significantly. Those who are genetically and emotionally instinctually committed to crime as a career are now locked up, by law of averages. A lot of people who shouldn't be locked up also got pushed into a cage. Should we get some use out of them maybe? Substitute them for monkeys in drug testing programs?

Is this incarceration tactic viable in Belize? I don't think so! We can't on our budget keep people locked up for all their lives. Too big an expense. So how to deal with it?

How about finding a Belizean alternative to locking up people in cages? We can't afford to feed them for life. How about a warning and probation and community service for a first time juvenile, or teen age offender? How about the loss of a finger by amputation for a second offense? How about the loss of a second finger on the third offense ( a variation of the Moslem Sharia court justice system ) How about the loss of a hand on the fourth offense? How about losing your head on the fifth offense? Sounds workable to me!

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