Vickie L. Epperson
CRJ 305 ~ Crime Prevention
July 09, 2012
I found the history of crime prevention very interesting and learned much about how this country has evolved to the various new theories regarding crime and its prevention. It has only taken the United States 200 years of failure to finally start considering proactive methods regarding crime prevention versus reactive. As our textbook asked, “Can crime be prevented? No.” (Champion, 2007, pg 3) As long as the Earth will exist there will be crime; however, that does not mean government agencies, law enforcement agencies, communities and volunteers can not combine their efforts to prevent as much crime activity as is possible. For years, the Department of Justice’s Correctional System’s main philosophy has been based on punishment and isolation, i.e., you do the crime; you do the time. It has truly been only over the past two decades that this philosophy has been questioned and efforts have been made to turn from the “punishment” concept to methods of handling all the various parts that cause an individual to turn to criminal activity. Reactive means punishment; proactive means not only taking a look at the outside or external causes of crime, e.g., environmental designs, poverty levels, education levels, etc., but taking a good look at the inside or internal causes, e.g. psychological, biological and sociological, that may have an impact on criminal behavior. We have also learned that the younger we start working with antisocial behaviors, the more successful we are with lowering not only the crime rate but recidivism. I have learned that antisocial behaviors can be detected in a young child as early as three years of age. That’s incredible to me yet makes a great deal of sense. I have known for a long time that the formative years in an individual’s life are from birth to five years of age. What occurs in those years will be carried into the future of the individual. My own youth bears out the validity and truth of this. What was accomplished in the first five years of my and my sister’s life has taken sixty years to undo. No complaints and our time era simply did not have the programs and help available today. Of all the crime prevention programs I have read about in this course, there were two that caught my interest, i.e., therapeutic communities within the prison walls and restorative justice programs applicable to our youth.
Therapeutic communities or TCs pioneered in the ‘50s and produced some documented success in the ‘60s through the Synanon Program in Santa Monica, CA. (Rehab-drug.net). The modality or methods used in the treatment of a disorder such as drug addiction of the original TCs was the movement to bring a way out of self-destructive behavior in connection with those often thought to be beyond recovery. There are now two types of therapeutic communities, i.e., the prison-based program and the community-based program. The Synanon Program was a community-based program developed by Check Dederich, a charismatic leader, as a drug rehabilitation program. As the Program ultimately became an alternative community, “attracting people with its emphasis on living a self-examined life, where there were no secrets and lying was a cardinal taboo” it appeared to be a successful venture. However, in the ‘70s the program became the cultish Church of Synanon and eventually disbanded permanently in 1989 due to “many criminal activities, including murder and attempted murder, and civil legal problems, including Federal tax-evasion problems with the Internal Revenue Service” (Rehab-drug.net)
Although the Synanon Program failed, per se, it did have some valuable treatment successes that the Criminal Justice community was able to glean and in 1975 the professional organization, Therapeutic Communities of America, Inc., was formed and its...