Monday, November 3, 2008

Obama on Inner-City Crime

This is an exchange from an MTV interview with Barack Obama, courtesy of Julius:

Question: Mr. Obama, my name is Joseph Stort, and I come from Red Hook, Brooklyn. I know at least 40 people who were murdered because they grew up in a climate of hopelessness. How can we begin to inject hope into the inner cities, to those society has deemed unreachable?

Obama: It's a big problem and we are not going to be able to turn it around overnight. I don't want people thinking, "I'm president, and suddenly you don't have any gangs on the streets, and you don't have any drugs being peddled on the corners." But I think that over the course of eight, 10 years, we can start moving in another direction, and it involves starting when they are young, investing in early childhood education, making sure that our kids are getting a healthy start, having a comprehensive health care program, so that every young person is getting the checkups they need, if they need eyeglasses, if they have a hearing impairment, if they're getting their vaccinations, whatever it is, making sure they are healthy and happy when they start school. That is point number one. Point number two is improving K-12 education, improving our teachers, giving them higher salaries. Also giving them more support, having after-school programs and summer-school programs so that the kids have some place to go and having a criminal-justice system that is focused more on prevention and not just apprehending criminals. You look at, for example, the way we deal with nonviolent, low-level drug offenders, first-time drug offenders, it turns out drug courts that force them to go to rehabilitation, where they are carefully monitored, is actually much more successful in preventing them in going back into a life of crime than just throwing them in a jail somewhere, and if we have a smart approach and not just a tough approach, but also a smart and tough approach to how we deal with the criminal-justice program, that can have an impact as well.