Thursday, December 13, 2007

Real Neighborhood Watch

An actually inspiring story about how the people of Charlestown, MA, tired of and scared by the unbelievable upswing and frequency of heroin use in their community, even in family pizza parlors at lunch, banded together to stop it. Without prisons, just them and a new deployment of cops (but in a preventative role, NOT more arrests). This nation was premised on the possibility of self-government—first by individuals of their own actions, then by communities, and only by last resort the formal institutions of government. We’ve forgotten much of that in the last few decades, and both the crime increase and our prison-based reaction to it have been the negative and costly consequences. It’s terrific to see that the old vision can still work. It would be more terrific to see it spread.

[While you’re at the Boston Globe, check out this op-ed lauding the recent US Supreme Court sentencing decisions and calling for even more reconsideration of the way we run things in our criminal justice [sic] process.]

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