February 22, 1994
The National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council recognizes and shares the nationwide concern over problems of crime and violence which continue to plague our schools, cities, and suburban communities. The potential for inner city neighborhood revitalization is too often impeded by criminal activity which undermines local efforts to enhance economic development, create jobs, and improve schools. Revitalization of urban neighborhoods and stability anywhere is not possible without anti-crime strategies that render communities safer for families and ensure the protection of children. Reflecting a growing sense of fear and alarm, citizens overwhelmed by the profound violence in their communities are reacting with demands for punishment.
Committed to addressing problems of crime and violence, the Jewish community supported passage of the Brady Bill, and recognizes the need for a range of effective crime fighting strategies. We agree that government must act forcefully to combat crime through determined enforcement. Proposed extreme and inflexible punitive measures, however, such as the expansion of the death penalty for federal crimes, including non-capital crimes, have been shown historically to have only limited effect on violent crime, and are not the solution.
A comprehensive policy on crime and violence must address the root causes that allow criminal activity to flourish, including poverty, drug and substance abuse, lack of employment opportunities, and an inadequate education system.
The NJCRAC therefore urges legislators to develop and support anti-crime strategies that address not only the need for more effective enforcement and gun control, but also the underlying social and economic factors that impact on crime and allow it to grow. The NJCRAC opposes legislation that would expand the rubric of crimes punishable by death, and that would unduly restrict prisoners’ ability to file habeas corpus petitions.