Thursday, May 7, 2015

On Excusing Criminal Behavior

As you, my fabulous readers know, your beloved
Peasant is a resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
a city that I am proud to call home. The city has
many wonderful and exciting places to see and
things to do for everyone of all ages. Milwaukee
has a long, rich history of industry, art, finance,
entertainment, sports, education, and politics.
But, like too many major American cities these
days, Milwaukee has some terrible problems
centering on its inner city neighborhoods --- violent
crime in the forefront. And this aforementioned
problem is worsening as your faithful Peasant
writes this piece.

In recent months the following crimes took place
in Milwaukee's troubled neighborhoods: a pregnant
mother was shot dead in front of her son. A little girl
was shot while playing on a playground when rival
gang members swept in, exchanging gunfire, when
a stray bullet struck the child; she died a few days
later in a hospital. A man accidentally struck a small
boy when the child went into the street without paying
mind to traffic, stopped to help the child, and was shot
dead while he did so. Violent crimes, including gun-
related crimes, are up in number from this month last
year. Why are these atrocities happening, and in
greater frequency?

A Milwaukee County judge who hears homicide and
sexual assault cases, Judge David Borowski, shared
his insight into these dark matters in a guest editorial
piece which appeared a few days ago in the Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel. He states that Milwaukee has to face
the fact that "there has been a major breakdown in the
family structure" accompanied by a major breakdown
in values. Poor or no parenting is a factor; so is a lack
of respect for life. So is a lack of self-control. Ditto
a lack of a proper education. I  have been well
aware for some years that many children who have
attended Milwaukee's public schools straight on from
kindergarten through high school graduate without
the reading schools enabling them to read what is
printed on their diplomas. What kind of jobs are they
going to get?

Judge Borowski points out that yes, guns are part of the
problem, as too many of them are obtained by felons
who have histories of dangerous behavior. But underneath
all that is what the judge calls "bad, thoughtless, violent
behavior." He went on to point out that the guns being
used in this manner are not purchased at sporting goods
stores or from legal, reputable gun dealers at their shops
or at weekend gun shows, but rather are bought off
"the street" or bought by straw purchasers, that is, those
pretending to buy them for someone, or are simply stolen.
These sales, therefore, are outside of firearm laws.
Criminals don't obey laws; that is why they are

What can concerned city citizens do about this threat to
their safety, to the stability of the city and its neighborhoods,
to the the citizens' very lives? His Honor has these ideas:
Law abiding citizens in these crime-ridden neighborhoods
must stop tolerating crime, and to do so by cooperating
with the police when they investigate criminal activity
there. They must stop the "no snitch" culture that is
rooted in fear and distrust of the police, as well as fear
of reprisals from gangs and other hoodlums. Parents
must be parents to their children, and must support other
parents in doing the same. Support good schools, be they
public or private. Be watchful of each other's kids and
the other kids in their neighborhoods, and demand
personal responsibility all around. And elected officials
can and must have roles in combating crime, including
judges; the latter have to be held accountable for fair
sentences and also for protecting the public. The state
Department of Corrections can help as well by doing
a better job of monitoring former criminals who are
walking around free while on extended supervision.
And finally, Judge Borowski calls for (and your
beloved Peasant has been wanting this to be done
for the longest time!) an end to excuses for violent
behavior; no more excusing criminals for their crimes
due to joblessness, poverty, or whatever other social
ills. We must all be accountable, and held accountable,
for our actions, and Judge Borowski, unlike some of
his colleagues at the courthouse, realizes this.
And I say that if we keep excusing away violent behavior
and other criminal conduct, how will we excuse away
the resultant injuries and deaths of the victims to their
their families, their friends, and their neighbors?

The Peasant says to Judge Borowski, "Hear hear!"


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