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Education Reporter

Book of the Month
Book of the Month

Making America Safer: What Citizens and Their State and Local Officials Can Do to Combat Crime, Edited by Edwin Meese III and Robert E. Moffit, 1997, The Heritage Foundation, 206 pps., $19.95

In response to the fact that virtually every survey over the past 20 years has shown that crime is a top concern among Americans, Edwin Meese III (former U.S. Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan) and Robert Moffit of the Heritage Foundation have compiled a well-researched study on the subject.

Making America Safer is a series of articles and essays detailing the root causes of violent crime, the efforts of local law enforcement agencies to combat it, what states can do, and how prison fellowship can change the lives of violent criminals.

The book rejects the theories about crime as scripted by "official Washington." For example, many lawmakers believe that the causes of crime are material — a lack of employment opportunities or funding for social programs — while the authors point to the breakdown of the traditional family, particularly the absence of the father from the home, as the chief cause. They further cite the moral breakdown of society rather than poverty as a primary cause of violent crime.

In Chapter 6, High School Administrator C. Stephen Wallis gives his prescription for restoring "discipline and civility to America's public schools." He recommends addressing school violence with "clear and unambiguous codes of school discipline which are strictly enforced by school administrators." He advocates a return to teaching the basics, and favors making "character education" a part of the school curriculum.

Making America Safer examines the juvenile justice system and offers solutions to the problem of juvenile crime, including a fascinating glimpse into Drill Sergeant Roger Redd's boot camp-like training program for youthful offenders. Chapter 9 looks at how the increasing federalization of law enforcement usurps the authority of local police and sheriff's departments, most notably at Ruby Ridge and Waco, sometimes with tragic results.

Write The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or call (202) 546-4400.
(There is a $4.00 shipping charge.)

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