Sunday, February 14, 2010

Common Sense Solutions Against Terror

Published 12/30/09

Fighting terror, especially home grown terror, is not always hard. Instead of pandering to perceived popular opinion, we need to simply address where terrorists recruit and what can be done to curb recruitment. As with so much else, all politics (and most solutions) are local.

For starters, domestic grown terror is often the result of a criminal justice system that does not focus on rehabilitation. Long sentences in which first time offenders have been placed to sit in boredom with career criminals not only turns them into habitually violent felons. The very sentence robs them of hope, and radical jihadists have recruited thousands within the prison system by appealing to that very sense of helplessness.

The alternative is shorter and harsher labor sentences in which the offender (as long as he or she is not a direct risk to society) is sentenced to near backbreaking labor for a specified duration. Such punishment not only prevents criminals from reoffending, as study after study has documented, it also leaves the convict with a sense of hope and that the sentence will soon be over. In the end, it prevents non-violent offenders from being immersed in a culture, and eventually a lifestyle, of habitual crime.

Advocating for such a system is not only a matter of national security. It improves public works, lowers crime and, at the root of it all, is the decent thing to do. But at a time when thousands of radical jihadists have been bred within the prison system, such a solution is especially needed.

Domestic terror can also be curbed by revamping the educational system in such a way that motivates teens to succeed and to stay in school. There is also no better way of reducing crime rates. Schools have been a breeding ground for terror as well as crime, with students who feel dejected or out of place being the most vulnerable targets.

Introducing financial literacy into state curriculums not only teaches students how to budget and to avoid the pitfalls of debt later in life (often starting the moment they enter college). These courses also provide tangible reasons for students to continue their education, thereby avoiding crime and instead focusing on success. For a candidate, advocating for the availability of such courses in public schools is a matter of simple common sense.

Terror can affect small cities as much as it affects large metropolitans. There also exist no areas that are immune from crime. That is what makes the above anti-terror/anti-crime solutions needed overhauls that all elected officials and candidates should be advocating for anywhere in the nation. Indeed, public service should demand this.

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