The nation is in shock to the core at the recent announcement by the Public Defender that hundreds of children have been held in detention (sometimes extended) under the SOE in St James and parts of St Catherine. People’s stomachs are made to turn when they hear tales of persons being held for weeks on end only to be released without charge and persons are flabbergasted that the rules which look so stringent and airtight on paper regarding arrest have been so wantonly flouted.
For the most part, people, while accepting the need for the SOE, are trying to understand where it all has gone wrong as it relates to detention as the violence in those areas has been dented.
The people who feel this way and ask these questions (particularly the opposition PNP) are, if I may be blunt, idiots of the highest order. To be more precise, they are idiots who suffer from a severe case of amnesia because everyone who has been opposed to the ‘enhanced security measures’ has been opposed to them in large part because we all knew this would end this way.
Everyone who has been in opposition to this has said in no uncertain terms that these measures would only result in the mass arrest of young, poor men, who would be housed in appalling conditions, only for the majority to be released without charge (but with a massive chip on their shoulder and possible vengeance in their hearts).
If those in shock now did not wish to take us seriously they could have looked at our history (yes, a dirty word) to see that every SOE or ‘enhanced security measure’ (truly the most WTF statement from this administration) has resulted in the mass detention (for a prolonged period) of young, poor people only to then release the majority either without charge or with minor offences (ganja splif, breaking curfew or underage drinking).
Everybody, however, admits that while the mass detentions are bad, one cannot argue with the dip in the murder rate. Again, those people, if they cared to look back, say 8 years ago, would see the same pattern playing out. In fact, if they looked into any major operation which has flooded an area for a prolonged period with security forces, they will see a dip in crime. But after they leave, in every scenario the crime has then shot up to levels not seen before.
Common sense tells you that criminals don’t commit crimes when the law is out en-mass, but they must return to barracks someday. And so, they bide their time coming back with a vengeance when the forces have left the streets. (See Tivoli).
The same will happen here, and these same idiots will then holler that we’ve gone to hell in a handbasket. The hollering will eventually lead to another state of emergency and the entire cycle will repeat itself, the cycle of idiocy and hypocrisy will continue.
The persons who are claiming the war halfway won, need to ask themselves these simple questions: Has the government or opposition voiced a plan to radically change our society? Has the government been hiring the hundreds of social workers who will be needed to implement that societal change? Have those individuals who are more likely to fall through the cracks of society been given an adequate safety net to stave off the temptations of crime? Heck, have we been pushing for persons to enter these communities and assist the state in things such as literacy since we have such a limited pool of teachers? Have we laid out a plan for persons in these communities to not only be brought back into the fold of the state but made to feel actually independent?
None of these things were done beforehand and nothing is being done now, so again, why the shock that the result of this has been (for now) hundreds of young persons experiencing the hell which is the Jamaican lock up. Nothing has been achieved apart from the temporary (but still welcome) drop in murders which in turn will, in the next five years, move to a massive spike (as the troops leave the areas and criminals return home as the societal causes still exist).
The persons who are now pearl-clutching should stop with their self-righteous indignation and start asking themselves if they truly want an end to crime and if they are willing to make the sacrifices (some in terms of rights, some in terms of money and some even in terms of time and labour). If the answer is no, then accept what you have been clamouring for, build your gated communities (expensive prisons) and shut up. If yes, then do it and push for those around you and the state to do the things necessary to forever end this scourge.
The PNP should be embarrassed, and in this moment of hypocrisy and opportunism have surely cemented themselves as the opposition in waiting when the next election is over. For these people to have voted for and extended the SOEs in the face of all of what persons were saying was bad. But to now come and cry because the outcome is exactly what we all said it would be, and to condemn the woefully underfunded agencies show that they have no love for the citizens in their bones, only politicking.
We have been doing this dance for far too long, since before I was born, and the results have always been the same, crushed toes and disappointed dance partners. It’s time to find a new one. The human rights groups, elders, politicians and students in this island have long ago fingered the root causes of our crime problem.
The time for pearl-clutching and commissions is over. It is time, we either accept that we don’t want to address the causes and live quietly in a police state (with its natural accompaniments) or we deal with it in a just and humane fashion. If we don’t willingly make the choice, then it’s only a matter of time before the choice is made and forced upon us, only this time without the option of compassion.