Crime Pork

Congress has been passing bills faster than McDonald's flips hamburgers. They're all part of the gargantuan omnibus crime bill whose sole purpose seems to be to prove that federal lawmakers are serious about fighting crime. But as columnist Joe Klein points out in Newsweek magazine, the "get tough" measures are overwhelmed by "get soft" measures. Billions of dollars in the bill are earmarked for projects that have less to do with crime than with social engineering. Nine of the 22 billion dollars will go to a seemingly endless succession of research projects. The bill calls for the establishment of seven national commissions, six task forces, 16 reports, four studies, four assessments, and a collection of advisory boards and councils. This isn't a crime bill, Joe Klein says—it's an employment bill for criminologists and social workers. What's more, these research projects focus less on reducing crime than on solving social problems. For example, researchers can study "the nature and prevalence of mental illness among youthful offenders." They can look into "crime against senior citizens." They can vie for millions of dollars in grants to study racial bias in the justice system. No doubt each of these categories represents a real concern. But are they what you and I intended when we paid taxes to keep the streets safe? And that's just the beginning. The most generous funding is allotted to studies of the war between the sexes. There are 12 commissions, studies, and reports all dealing with domestic violence or "gender" crimes, including campus sexual assaults. Then there is more than $600 million for spousal-violence prevention, $900 million to address crimes against women, $195 billion for rape-prevention education, $30 million to combat rural domestic violence, and much more. There is even $600,000 to educate judges in how to handle gender crimes. Now, no one disputes that violence against women is a serious problem. But with feminists like Catherine McKinnon defining rape extremely broadly—as any unwelcome sexual overture—we're not talking only about real violence. We're also talking about a highly politicized social agenda. The real purpose of all these commissions and studies was quietly admitted by a Senate staffer, who told Joe Klein, "We figured this was the only piece of social legislation we'd pass this year, so we threw everything in." What a revealing statement. The social engineers on Capitol Hill couldn't leave a crime bill as just a crime bill. Instead, they played on the American people's fears about crime to sneak in a host of social programs. Tell your representatives in Congress that if they're going to spend taxpayer money on crime, you want to know it's really going to combat crime. Tell them to earmark funds for programs that have a proven track record: alternative sentencing for nondangerous offenders, drug programs for addicts, and work programs that give prison inmates marketable skills that could keep them from falling back into a life of crime. Social problems are important in their own right. But lawmakers need to play it straight. Tell them to stop exploiting the issue and give us a real crime bill.


Chuck Colson


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