One of the worst diseases that ever ravaged humanity was smallpox. There was a time when about one in five who became infected died and almost everyone became infected. Survivors were left scarred and sometimes blind. In those days, no one could have foreseen that a simple procedure, vaccination, would eventually provide protection to everyone and cause the eradication of smallpox from the earth.
The smallpox virus and criminal behavior have several features in common. Both affect only the human species. Both are spread infectiously from one person to the next. Both are preventable by making the potential host immune. Once eliminated, neither spontaneously regenerates.
Today it is equally possible to immunize a child against criminality as against smallpox.
How can it be done?
We can answer this question by examining our prison population and determining who's not present. We must ask, is there a common ingredient in the lives of those who don't become criminals, and is also consistently absent from the lives of those who do become criminals?
The answer is yes, there is. This key ingredient, this precious stuff that seems to be associated exclusively with people who never become candidates for the penitentiary, has been identified. And there is no reason that it cannot be introduced universally. When that is done, crime and violence will go the way of smallpox.
Who's not in prison?
The person whose closest caretakers used methods of infant care and child rearing that were gentle, patient and loving is not in prison. The person who sensed from earliest infancy that adults are the source of safety, security and comfort is not in prison. The person who always felt wanted is not in prison. The person who was respected, encouraged to explore and inquire is not in prison. The person who grew up seeing family members and others treat each other with respect and honor each other's privacy and dignity is not in prison. The person who had ample...