Crime—Is There a Solution?
SINCE crime affects all of us, directly or indirectly, the question remains, Is there a solution? Judge Richard Neely of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals suggests: “Getting at the root causes of crime implies a reordering of society of a magnitude that few are willing to undertake.” (Italics ours.) He argues that “there is neither the scientific knowledge nor the political will to eliminate the root causes of crime.”
Why would that be? He reasons that the people most affected by crime, those who “live in ghettos or declining working-class neighborhoods,” are the ones with the least direct political power. Judge Neely states: “Crime victims, it should be noted, are not an organized interest group.” Therefore they have little or no political influence. Those with political power live mainly outside the sphere of common criminal activities—they do not use public transport or live in slum dwellings. And in some cases, he argues, increased law enforcement would endanger their own white-collar crime. This is basically true for most parts of the world. Thus the lower-income masses are more often the victims of crime and political hypocrisy.
But another vital factor impedes progress in the fight against crime—human nature itself. “Lust, avarice, aggression, and self-aggrandizement are inherently part of the makeup of people,” says Judge Neely. That fact has been evident ever since Cain murdered his brother Abel.—Genesis 4:3-11.
However, the factor of evil in human nature is a problem that modern psychology refuses to face. In an interview with Awake!, Dr. Samenow stated: “By and large, an awful lot of people in the mental-health field really have not confronted the problem of evil.”
However, many criminals do not want to cast aside their ‘lust, avarice, and aggression.’ Therefore they refuse to respond to therapy and to rehabilitation programs. In California, for example, the prisoners have fought any therapy approach. “The prisoners’ argument is that therapy is an illusion because of insufficient scientific knowledge about rehabilitation . . . Regardless of why they stop [being criminals], the argument goes, it will not have been a result of any prison therapy.” They argue that “the object of prison is punishment, short and sweet. Accordingly, they want every convict to know exactly how long he must serve when he enters the joint so that he will not need to play the Kafkaesque [irrational] rehabilitation game.”—Why Courts Don’t Work, Judge R. Neely.
Can a Criminal Change?
Yet some criminals have been willing to cooperate in reform programs. In the program of Drs. Yochelson and Samenow, a drastic approach was used. They report: “We make it clear that from our point of view nothing of the criminal’s way of life is to be preserved. Putting on new clothes over old and stained ones is not enough; the old clothes must be regarded as contaminated and diseased and then discarded and destroyed. The criminal must eliminate his old patterns and become responsible in every way.”
Similarly, in the Bible the apostle Paul counseled: “Strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it.”—Colossians 3:9, 10.
The fact that changes can be made is evidenced by Paul’s own comment after listing the types of persons who will not inherit God’s Kingdom—fornicators, thieves, extortioners, and others. He says: “Yet that is what some of you were. But you have been washed clean . . . in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Today there are nearly three million active Jehovah’s Witnesses, most of whom have had to make changes in their way of thinking. Some led a criminal life until they made the change.
One case is that of a former diamond thief whose story appeared in the Awake! issue of October 8, 1983. He was a career criminal in London, England. When he eventually accepted a study of the Bible and put on “the new personality,” he gave himself up to the police and confessed his crimes. After serving a five-year prison sentence, he came out to live a reformed life. Was it easy for him? He answers:
“The change in my outlook on life was not easy to make. Apart from fighting, the hardest physical work I had ever done was washing my car. Now I had to settle down to working eight hours a day . . . I had never bothered about routine in my life. Now an orderly way of life was important. I had always proudly scorned discipline of any kind. Now it was necessary to accept the fact that my way might not always be right.”—Compare with “Profile of a Hardened Criminal,” page 9.
But he made the changes. Was it worth the effort? “I do not pretend that it has been easy,” he answered. “But certainly it has been worthwhile.”
But why should anyone want to change his life to conform to Bible principles? Because there is a strong motivation—the opportunity for everlasting life on a paradise earth. That is the promise that Jesus made to the criminal who was dying by his side when He said: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Of course, the evildoer could not remain in the earthly Paradise as a criminal but only as a repentant, changed person.
But no matter how successful a reform program might be, the old adage is still true: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” The majority of career criminals are not interested in change. Then is there no answer at all to the world crime problem? There is a solution—a drastic one.
How Crime Will End
The Bible indicated that a time would come when there would be an increase of calamities upon the human race. In such, Jesus included an “increasing of lawlessness.” (Matthew 24:12) The apostle Paul prophesied that “in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, . . . disobedient to parents, . . . disloyal, having no natural affection, . . . without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness.”—2 Timothy 3:1-5.
While mankind has always been afflicted with crime and evil to a greater or lesser degree, it is since the crucial date of 1914 that Bible prophecies relating to the end of the world’s corrupt system of things have come to remarkable fulfillment. (Compare Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13, and Revelation 6:1-8.) Therefore, the time is near for God’s righteous Kingdom government to enter into action against his enemies on earth. These include criminals who deliberately choose crime as a way of life, for “unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom.”—1 Corinthians 6:9.
So if a person is not willing to change, what is the alternative? The Bible answers: “Evildoers themselves will be cut off . . . Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more.” Yes, soon the earth will be cleansed of all criminal elements—whether religious, political, or social. God’s cleansing war of Armageddon will leave alive on earth only “those hoping in Jehovah . . . the ones that will possess the earth. . . . And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Psalm 37:9-11; Revelation 16:14, 16.
This is the only way, for as the Bible states: “Though the wicked one should be shown favor, he simply will not learn righteousness. In the land of straightforwardness he will act unjustly.” (Isaiah 26:10) God’s “new heavens and a new earth” in which “righteousness is to dwell” is the only viable answer to mankind’s problems of crime and sin—and in that system only those who choose righteousness will dwell.—2 Peter 3:13.
[Blurb on page 10]
“Getting at the root causes of crime implies a reordering of society of a magnitude that few are willing to undertake”
[Blurb on page 11]
“An awful lot of people in the mental-health field really have not confronted the problem of evil”
[Blurb on page 11]
‘Nothing of the criminal’s way of life is to be preserved. He must eliminate his old patterns and become responsible in every way’