Crime, Zoso and Jamaican Politics

It is a fact that crime is Jamaica’s biggest development challenge. My adult experience as a Jamaican is built around a consciousness of a worsening crime situation and an acceptance that in my lifetime I will not see any significant change in the reality of crime and in particular Jamaica’s murder rate. I have accepted it, we cannot break the back of the crime monster in Jamaica.

Like most Jamaicans, I know that the solution to the crime problem is not solely located in improved policing, or an effective judicial system. It is in fact a combination of several critical influencers, chief among them a response to poverty, and all its attendant evils. Like most Jamaicans I have also come to recognize that the work needed to ‘break the back’ of the crime problem is not one that government and oppositon is willing to do. Jamaica’s history, tells an intriquing tale of political parties and politicians being critical players in the perpetuation of the intractable crime problem. They are players because they benefit, it keeps them in power. How can a political leader justify the existence of garrisons in the ways they have emerged in Jamaican politics? Better yet how can they lead such a constituency and not know they have lost credibility?

So my take on the recent Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO). I like most Jamaicans hoped and prayed it would work, it would result in less murders and violent crime. I was particularly excited by the social intervention plan and wanted to be excited at the prospects of a social intervention plan that would strike at the heart of poverty, marginalization, hopelessness and would re-inspire those of us who have learnt that it is perhaps best to stop hoping.

ZOSO is strong on the policing part, even if it is not the kind of policing that would help to solve the problem. But it is weak on social intervention, I am still waiting to be impressed, it cannot be a fair or an expo where the government agencies go into a ZOSO and hand out pamphlets and make powerpoint presentations.

I am waiting on the social interventon plan this is what will make the difference, but it will only make a difference if it speaks to transforming people’s lifes.

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