published Friday, June 15th, 2012

Crime and government

An understanding of the proper role of government should begin with the key reason why government exists: to restrain the bad guys and thereby promote the freedom and safety of everyone else.

Considering government's well-documented difficulties with reforming and rehabilitating bad guys, it may have raised a few eyebrows when Democratic state Sen. Andy Berke, who hopes to be Chattanooga's next mayor, said the city should take upon itself the task of showing criminals a path to success.

Berke offered that goal -- which involves getting together lots of people in the community and discussing the issue -- as a component of his promise to reduce Chattanooga's crime rate.

"It's incredibly important and doable," he said at a small gathering.

To be sure, there is obvious value in trying to lead criminals down a different path.

But that doesn't mean government is a particularly apt vehicle for pursuing that endeavor. Far and away the most valuable role government can serve in reducing crime is to enact laws creating just, but stiff, sentences for criminals -- particularly for violent criminals. Then those sentences should actually mean what they say.

It's simple cause and effect: Most people do not have a desire to be in prison, and hardly anybody wants to be there long term. So tough sentences for serious crimes go a long way toward discouraging that behavior.

Meanwhile, churches and a range of other excellent organizations can and do perform vital work in helping point criminals in a more productive direction.

Confusing the different but equally important roles of government and private institutions, however, is not likely to yield the reduced crime that we would all like to see.

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.

Your theory of government is authoritarian and coercive.

Are you sure that's what you want?

June 15, 2012 at 1:11 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

The primary function of government is not to oppress people. In practice, our country revolted largely in response to the high taxes associated with the Stamp Act. It could be argued that the USA became a nation for the opposite of reasons listed in the editorial.

Take a history class. Read a book. Try the immigration and naturalization quiz for prospective citizens. Do anything that looks like research before writing these editorials.

When you look at our state seal next time, you will see the words "Agriculture" and "Commerce." They are there to symbolize the desire for our people to build a better life for themselves. That's closer to the primary function of government.

June 15, 2012 at 3:37 p.m.
AndrewLohr said...

Concrete, simple, and correct. The liberal theory of gov't is like kudzu--it should keep growing.

Punishing criminals is not oppressing people.

June 15, 2012 at 7:39 p.m.
Easy123 said...


What does rehabilitating criminals have to do with "growing government"?

It's not about punishing criminals. Berke wants to help rehabilitate them so they don't become career criminals. Longer sentences are going to discourage criminals. It'll just keep the off the streets longer. They need to be rehabilitated.

June 15, 2012 at 8:04 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.