The presidential campaign has been in full swing for 12 months now, and we've heard about every conceivable issue—the economy, Iraq, the candidates' religious beliefs, and who's most qualified to take that 3 A.M. call. With all this talk, however, the candidates seem to be ignoring one issue needing our considerable attention: crime.

This is surprising, since in 35 years there has been a 6-fold increase in the prison population. The staggering statistic that more than 1 in 100 U.S. citizens (2.3 million) are behind bars made headlines in February. This costs the state governments $50 billion a year, not counting secondary costs—for crime victims and inmates' families, many of whom end up on welfare. And America's high recidivism rates—over 50 percent, according to a 2005 Pew report—mean the problems, and costs, keep compounding.

So why aren't politicians really addressing crime? Because the answer is so politically incorrect. To solve the problem of crime, we first have to address the root cause: human sin.

Though many sociologists of the 19th and early 20th centuries attributed crime to environmental factors like poverty, an inadequate criminal justice system, and racism, landmark studies in the last 30 years have shown that crime is really about wrong moral decisions. For example, in their 17-year-long study The Criminal Personality, psychologists Stanton Samenow and Samuel Yochelson found that crime, in every case, was "the product of deliberation," and gave the antidote of "conversion to a whole new lifestyle." And in their definitive study Crime and Human Nature, Harvard social scientists James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein found that crime is caused by a lack of moral teaching during the morally ...

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Christianity Today
The Great (Non)debate
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June 2008

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