DJ Tice Star Tribune article recently made the pain of crime very real by describing his wife’s rape, his own assault and home burglary along with the awful Barry Latzer assumption that 80% of Americans could become victims of a violent crime in their lifetime.

No obfuscation here.

Crime hurts when it happens to you or someone you love.

What best should be done about crime and punishment is our national conundrum.

Damn the data, “hanging’s too good for em’ and “lock em up” our national chant for fifty years bringing us statistics like;

5% of the world’s population / 25% of the world’s prison population with recidivism rates approaching 80%).

30% of American youth arrested by their 23rd birthday,

100 million Americans with a criminal record,

5 States with incarceration rates 20 times that of most industrialized nations

Making Louisiana the World’s Prison Capital &

these 2 recent studies putting the cost of crime at between 500 billion & one trillion dollars annually.

“Didn’t Start In a Vacuum” were DJ Tice’s words and he could not be more accurate.

Let’s unpack these words by considering the words of other articulate & studied people on this topic –

Former MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz;

“The difference between that poor child and a felon, is about 8 years” &

“90% of the youth in Juvenile Justice have come through child protective services”.

Marion Wright Edelman’s direct “Pipeline to Prison” language demonstrating how babies become felons, &

KARA board member Damon’s Kocina’s take on Chief Justice Blatz words, “The difference between that poor child and a preteen mom with no parenting skills, a criminal record, a drug habit and a violent boyfriend, is about 8 years”

If outcomes are measured accurately, it is obvious that our nations institutional use of the punishment model when dealing with children and juveniles has created exactly what it was designed to stop.

America has more violence, crime and criminals than any other advanced nation and a public still enamored with prisons, jails and the harsh treatment of people no matter what their age.  Courts try a quarter million juveniles as adults annually with millions of juveniles having been tried as adults these past ten years.  Foster kids are 9 times more likely to be involved in criminal activity.

This CASA volunteer guardian ad Litem is convinced that once the medical community’s ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) studies and programs dealing with child abuse and the traumas that come with it, have replaced this nation’s punishment model, outcomes from all our institutions will improve overnight.

ACEs is a redefinition of mental health and proof that the healing model mends traumatized children broken by a childhood spent in toxic homes.

Children healed from the traumas that drive their violent and dangerous behaviors, will be better juveniles and better citizens.

Healed children become healthy adults contributing to happier communities with safer streets and more successful schools.

Or, we can buy more guns, build more prisons and pay the outrageous price of personal harm, high taxes and a lifetime of worry about the safety of our homes and families.