Curing the Crime Crisis

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Curing The Crime Crisis

Convicted: New Hope for Ending America’s Crime Crisis, by Charles Colson and Daniel Van Ness (Crossway, 111 pp.; $4.95, paper). Reviewed by E. Calvin Beisner, author of Prosperity and Poverty and Psalms of Promise.

Chuck Colson is angry with America’s criminal-justice system. You should be, too.

Colson, who has seen the system from both sides, is angry because the system fails almost completely to perform the most essential tasks of criminal justice: reparation for victims, punishment for criminals, deterrence of crime, and maintenance of order and peace in society. And it fails despite billions of dollars being spent on it every year.

That, Colson figures, is reason enough for every American to be angry and insist on a change, for every American is affected by the failures: through higher tax rates to build and run more prisons, through rising crime rates, through direct loss of property, and sometimes through personal injury.

In Convicted, Colson and coauthor Daniel Van Ness clearly and succinctly analyze the causes of the system’s failure and set forth basic prescriptions for its cure. They write from both experience and careful study—Colson as chairman of Prison Fellowship (PF) and attorney Van Ness as president of Justice Fellowship, PF’s lobbying arm. They appeal to Scripture for their chief understanding of human nature and morality, and they pay careful attention to academic studies on criminal justice and reform.

The authors describe three chief roots to the growing crime problem:

First, crime has been redefined from injury to individuals to violation of the laws of the state. This means that the state has replaced the victim as the injured party in criminal cases. Hence, victims are neglected, ...

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