The JFP's Crime-Fighting Manifesto | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

The JFP's Crime-Fighting Manifesto

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." - Edmund Burke.

1. We will not live in fear. We understand that hiding from the world in case something bad could happen to us means that more bad things happen to more people.

2. We will talk back to those who believe in selling fear and crime sensationalism. We know that such fear-mongering is done for political gain, TV ratings, to sell newspapers or to just be more dramatic than the next guy. We also know that crime sensationalism creates negative perceptions that keep the public from doing what it takes to keep our homes, communities and streets more secure.

3. We will support quality education for all at all levels, and fight for good public education every step of the way. We will resist efforts to test our kids to death while not providing basics such arts and music education that help them engage in activities and develop mind sets to keep them away from crime.

4. We know that mentoring changes lives, and urge every adult to "each one teach one." We will help gather and share good information about effective mentoring and how to be/find one.

5. We will engage in respectful conversations with young people every chance we can, striving to ask more than we tell.

6. We know that early childhood education will make our state and our city safer, and we will hold politicians accountable until they help us achieve it.

7. We know that not every child has a solid family athome to help direct and encourage them, and we will never use that as an excuse for not helping a child build a better life. We will take responsibility every way possible for all children and urge others to do the same.

8. We will be creative and actively brainstorm ways to help engage young people in our community and help them believe in themselves and their futures. We will talk back to people, and other media, who do not.

9. We will look for opportunities to return to the communities we left that need us now and get others to do the same.

10. We will speak out loudly for reproductive services and information on birth control to lower the incident of teen motherhood and fatherhood.

11. We will do what we can to help parents get the parenting skills they need, as well as other basic services they may lack. We will teach instead of blame every chance we can. We know that sometimes other adults have to step up when parents can't or don't.

12. We will always be "eyes on the streets": We will report crimes, suspicious behavior and gunfire; we will offer our assistance, and watch out for the children on our streets. We will get involved, even as we make every effort not to profile. We will be a snitch for safety of ourselves and our neighbors whenever possible.

13. We will seek diversity in every way, knowing that diversity builds understanding, trust, empathy and coalitions that change the world and make it safer. We will constantly strive to enlarge our networks. We will listen more often to people not like us.

14. We understand that poverty is a direct cause of crime and do everything we can do stop it and teach people how to get out of poverty.

15. We will know and teach our rights. We will demand that bad law enforcement be better trained or fired.

16. We will make an effort to get to know our neighbors better and build stronger communities together.

17. We will learn to observe our surroundings and know warning signs of possible criminal activity.

18. We will vote. We will elect politicians who believe in holistic (thus, real) approaches to preventing crime. We will reject those who run campaigns based on fear and ignorance.

19. We will demand reforms to our criminal-justice system, especially those that increase recidivism for young criminals, treat people of color harsher than whites and let domestic abusers/killers off easily. The system is upside down, and we will address it.

20. We will demand access to leadership. We will insist that they know and use research-based practices to making our communities safer, not mythical conventional "wisdom."

21. We will not put ourselves in harm's way if we can help it: We will choose safe parking; we will not leave our jobs alone after dark; we will be cautious with people we do not know well.

22. We will deter home invasions and property crime by not creating tempting conditions for criminals, by following "defensible space" ideas. We will lock car doors, never leave valuables in view and never leave our car running with no one in it. We will urge others to do the same.

23. We will not assume that any weapon will make us safer and only own/use weapons that we are well trained to use. We will never assume that property is more important than a human life.

24. We will support organizations and individuals who help the community do the above and promote smart safety best practices.

25. We will accept that preventing crime is each of our responsibility. We will adopt a new mantra: "It is up to me."

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BTW, this is probably the best place to post a warning: Anyone who says that the JFP, or me or anyone else here, has *ever* said that crime is not a "problem" or doesn't exist is lying for their own purposes. They are probably someone we have called out for either using crime sensationalism to increase ratings or newspaper sales (and, thus, advertising revenue) or for using the serious problem of crime to try to elect or defeat a political candidate. They don't like it that we call them out, ask them to back up what they're saying with evidence or challenge them to actually do homework on how to reduce and prevent crime in a community. Thus, they make up something truly nonsensical. What the JFP calls for is an evidence-based approach to fighting crime (because no other way will work; duh). Public figures, political candidates and media outlets have the responsibility to do this kind of homework -- or get called out for it. Why? Because they are making the crime problem WORSE, not better. We urge everyone to read this U.S. Department of Justice report on the problems with crime perceptions, fears and sensationalism. Here's a good money quote: "On one hand, the mass news media are driven to publicize crime, not reassurance, because crime attracts readers and viewers, who in turn attract advertising revenue. On the other hand, the public is bombarded by such an avalanche of media and messages that it is very difficult to get and keep peoples’ attention." [...] "One possibility is to work with the news media to help shape the messages that are disseminated about crime and safety. In practice, however, this is not always feasible because news media jealously guard their independence, plus they compete with each other for readers and viewers—consequently, “if it bleeds it leads” and crime reporting tends to be sensational." We also urge everyone to read our recent CRIME GOOD Ideas issue carefully starting with page 14; there is a wealthy of research here that can give us all great ideas on how to tackle the crime issues in our community. (Don't worry: It's not academic writing, and there are tons of infographics to make the info easy to digest! We tried to do the heavy lifting and then we distilled it down into easy-to-read pieces. We've gotten an incredible response on it. Please show it to everyone you know, especially those who hawk crime for selfish reasons.)


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