Changing criminal habits with early interventions

Crime prevention can occur with early interventions, says one expert on the subject who spoke to rural residents in Ponoka last week.

Crime prevention can occur with early interventions, says one expert on the subject.

That happens with preventative supports before the crimes begin, suggests Kerry Sauve, owner of Street Sense Safety who has 20 plus years experience as a correctional officer. That was one key message to his crime prevention presentation April 18 held at St. Augustine Catholic School.

Sauve pointed out that crime is a societal issue and adding more law enforcement to the problem won’t actually solve crime.

“The fact is if North Americans didn’t like a life of drugs and prostitution we wouldn’t have any gang problems,” Sauve stated.

Despite the unpopular opinion, Sauve suggests spending money on cures rather than punishments especially at an early age is a more realistic crime preventative measure. But nobody wants to pay for a service like that.

“The hard part is convincing good people like yourselves that we should be putting a bunch of money helping people who are victimizing everybody,” said Sauve.

He used addiction and trauma centres, treatment for the mentally ill, many of whom end up in jail, as the example. If individuals have trauma but no means to deal with those issues, then they could end of in a life of crime.

“If we’re putting money, time and effort into programs to help people get by those…a lot of people will become normal, productive citizens,” said Sauve.

As a reminder, Sauve pointed to a recent study that states it costs more than $100,000 a year to keep a criminal in prison. He suggests for two thirds of the cost, a proper support would actually keep people out of jail and as guide them to be contributing members of society.

That being said, 30 per cent of those who do get caught for crimes are re-offenders. Sauve said those people are looking for easy money and they generally don’t care about property or societal rules. Prisons do have a purpose but demonizing individuals and placing them outside of society isn’t going to rehabilitate them.

Many gang members he has dealt with where there was a turnaround were made possible by replacing an illegal activity with something they are good at. He has seen drug dealers turn their lives around by becoming salespeople in real estate or other sales positions.

“Every gang member I know calls himself a businessman,” said Sauve.

While there are ways to keep home and property safe, Sauve was clear, these problems won’t go away unless there’s a fundamental change to how criminal activity is treated.

He suggests that crimes won’t completely be resolved but that a change in treatment needs to be considered.