Thursday, September 18, 2008

Crime & Public Administration

While the narrative from some in academia and many in the media of why so many people are imprisoned—over 2 million in the United States—is comparable to this expressed by a prominent thinker on public administration in Governing Management Insights, the insight based in reality is that the public response to rising crime rates several years ago was broken-windows policing and three-strikes sentencing which has caused prisons to fill with criminals and lower crimes rates.

The public is safer as a result, many inner city neighborhoods have been reclaimed, and the certainty of timely arrest, judgment, and punishment will ultimately increase the ranks of penitential criminals.

The responsibility to protect the innocent from the aggressor is a Catholic principle woven into its traditional support for babies in the womb, just war, and capital punishment, and is reflected in the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and the 2001 United Nations report, The Responsibility to Protect, which states as two basic principles:

“A. State sovereignty implies responsibility, and the primary responsibility for the protection of its people lies with the state itself.

“B. Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect.” (p. xi)

Pope Benedict XVI (2008) addressed the responsibility to protect in his talk to the United Nations:

“Recognition of the unity of the human family, and attention to the innate dignity of every man and woman, today find renewed emphasis in the principle of the responsibility to protect. This has only recently been defined, but it was already present implicitly at the origins of the United Nations, and is now increasingly characteristic of its activity. Every State has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights, as well as from the consequences of humanitarian crises, whether natural or man-made. If States are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the United Nations Charter and in other international instruments.” (n.p.)