Twenty-One Debunked believes that 1) the drinking age should be lowered to 18, 2) cannabis should be fully legalized for everyone 18 and older and treated no more stringently than alcohol or tobacco, and 3) all other currently illegal substances should be treated for the most part according to the Portuguese model of decriminalization of users, since full legalization of such substances (while we don't necessarily oppose doing so) is unlikely to be politically feasible at this time and could have unforseen consequences if not implemented properly. Additionally, the True Spirit of America Party also supports abolishing (or at least greatly reducing) material poverty (which is, along with structural racism and economic inequality, one of the major root causes of both crime and substance abuse) via a Universal Basic Income Guarantee as well as a Humprey-Hawkins style Job Guarantee program. In the long run, all of these things are likely to reduce crime and/or substance abuse overall. But in the meantime, with or without the aforementioned measures in place, enter the 180/180 strategy to really take a bite out of crime in the near-term:
- Implement an all-ages curfew law for the first 90 days, albeit with exceptions for people traveling to or from work or school. Similar to what Iceland did, except for all ages and for a limited period of time. Set it at 9 pm Sunday-Thursday and 10 pm on Friday and Saturday in general (10 pm and midnight, respectively, in the summer when days are longer).
- Implement a "dry law" (no alcohol can be sold, period) for the first 30 days of the strategy.
- Increase the number of police and the number of patrols conducted, while also being careful to maintain good relations overall between the police and the community.
- Raise the taxes significantly on all alcoholic beverages and/or set a price floor on such drinks.
- Put a "sinking lid" on the number and density of alcohol outlets, especially liquor stores.
- Make simple possession of cannabis (and perhaps other drugs) and "underage" drinking the lowest law-enforcement priority (LLEP), similar to the San Francisco Miracle of the 1990s.
- Do a "low-arrest crackdown" on any hard-drug markets, as was done in High Point, NC. Instead of the usual catch-as-catch-can, build a case against every drug dealer in town, with enough evidence to put them away for a long time. Then call them all in for a meeting and give them an ultimatum: stop dealing now or go to prison. The market will dry up very quickly, and likely remain as such for years.
- Implement Hawaii's HOPE program (for hard drugs) and South Dakota's 24/7 program (for alcohol) for probationers and parolees.
- Implement the strategies of Operation Ceasefire, aka the Boston Miracle, as a proven way to defuse gang violence.
- Conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness after 180 days. If serious crime has not dropped by at least half during that time, re-start both the curfew and dry law again, repeating as needed. Otherwise, do not bring either one back, but maintain the other components of the strategy.
Other, medium- to longer-term measures that ought to be included in a comprehensive strategy are:
- Get the Lead Out, and Take a Bite Out of Crime. Numerous studies have shown a strong relationship between preschool lead exposure and later involvement in crime and other social ills during adolescence and adulthood. (And take fluoride out of our drinking water as well, which worsens the leaching and effect of lead and is also neurotoxic in its own right.)
- Provide free birth control to anyone who wants it, and end the current assault on women's reproductive rights, yesterday. (Fewer unwanted children will lead to fewer criminals in the long run, according to Freakonomics)
- Send nurses to visit the homes of first-time mothers who are poor and/or young. According to Kleiman, this may be the most cost-effective crime-fighting program ever devised.
- Implement sensible gun control laws (while still respecting the Second Amendment), as well as putting a tax on bullets.
- For cities with very high crime rates, consider combining the controversial Project Exile (i.e. tougher enforcement of federal gun laws) with the aforementioned Operation Ceasefire, as was the case in the strategy known as Project Safe Neighborhoods.
- Shift the school day (for middle and high school) to both start and end later.
- Raise the minimum wage. (Yes, studies do show a correlation)
- Implement a "Housing First" approach to solving homelessness.
- Invest more in education in general, from pre-K through post-grad.
- Invest more in both mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, as well as substitution therapy (methadone, buprenorphine) for opioid addicts.
- Provide more opportunities for alternative forms of recreation, like Iceland did.
- If we find we must follow the "broken windows" theory, think James Q. Wilson (who invented it), NOT Rudy Giuliani. Do NOT use racial profiling or police brutality, or anything else that violates anyone's civil or human rights, period.
- And for crime in general, we must always keep in mind that swiftness and certainty of punishment works better than random severity. Punishment is a cost, not a benefit.
We have been trying to get "tough on crime" for decades now. It's time to get SMART on crime instead.