thumbnail of Perspectives on Violence; 1
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Ier w BJC had him in Baltimore resents the Johns Hopkins University annual undergraduate project at the Newton as Eisenhower symposium a 13 part conference on the United States in the 1970s perspectives on violence. Today's featured speaker is Dr. Milton S. Eisenhower the introductory speaker is Dean Rudolph.
In 1967 the Milton if I was some podium was inaugurated by the student council of the Johns Hopkins University as a tribute to Doctor arriving for his exceptional service to the Hopkins community. Each year since its initiation the symposium has been expanded and have gained prestige through its presentation of distinguished speakers on national and international issues. This year the topic of the symposium is the United States in the 1970s perspectives on violence. We have a chairman of the AIs I was involved in 1070. I've chosen this topic in light of the crisis of violence facing the society. Following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Senator Robert Kennedy spoke of the mindless menace of violence in America which stains our land and every one of our lives. It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of violence are black and white rich and poor young and old famous and unknown. They are most important of all human beings
whom other human beings loved and needed. No one no matter where he lives or what he does can be certain who next will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours. Why what has violence ever accomplished. What has it ever created. No matter his cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet. No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. The sniper is only a coward not a hero and an uncontrolled or uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness not the voice of the people. Whenever any Americans life is taken by another American unnecessarily whether it is done in the name of the law or in defiance of the law by one man or by a gang in cold blood or in passion in an attack of violence or in response to violence when we tear at the fabric of our lives which another man has painfully and clumsily
woven for himself and his children whenever we do this then the whole nation is degraded. Too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives and the shattered dreams of other human beings. Some look for scapegoats. Others look for conspiracies but this much is clear. Violence breeds violence repression breeds retaliation and only a crimson of our whole society can remove this sickness from ourselves. Now I would like to introduce my cochairman for the Ivan I was and podium spiv Manka who will introduce our honored keynote speaker at. Thank you. Thank you. No more qualified individual could have been chosen to open the symposium on violence from the man who directed the most complete study of violence ever made. Dr. Milton Nassau is an HOWER as been one of the most dedicated and effective public servants in America
contributing his talents to four major areas agriculture education Latin American affairs and most recently the problem of violence in our society. He was educated at Kansas State University and in his graduate work at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He holds honorary degrees from 33 colleges and universities. Dr Eisenhower's career began as U.S. vice consul in Edinburgh. From there he became assistant to the US secretary of agriculture and coordinator of the land use program under President Franklin Roosevelt. It was my director of the War Relocation Authority or presidential appointment in 1942. And 1043 Dr. Eisenhower began a second career and education as president of Kansas State University in which you served until 1950 when he was chosen president of the Pennsylvania State University. And I think that the SEC's Dr. Eisenhower became president of Johns Hopkins retiring 1960s up during his presidency the physical plant of Hopkins doubled in size. Faculty salaries
became one of the highest in the nation on the endowment fund was more than doubled concurrently with his work as a university president Dr. Eisenhower was made a special ambassador and personal representative a present of the United States on Latin American affairs 1963 and from 1957 1960 he wrote The wine is better analysis of the social and economic problems of Latin America. In 1963 he retained an active interest in Latin America through his service as a member of the Atlantic Pacific canal commission beginning in 1965 and 1068 President Johnson appointed Dr. Eisenhower chairman of the National Commission on the causes and prevention of violence. On which subject he will address us today. On behalf of my cochairman Dean riddle I and my associate chairman Peter he Boeing and Richard Powers and I would like to introduce Dr. Melton outsize encounter. Thank
you. I'm fine. Thank you Steve and you too Dean die. That introduction makes me think of my introduction of President Johnson when he spoke here during the campaign of 1964. We had quite a large audience we were out here in the quadrangle and considering his politics and mine I thought I was rather gracious an introduction. And he apparently did too because he said Milton that's the second best introduction I ever had. The only time there was a better when I went to Louisville the governor of the state was supposed to introduce me didn't come so I introduced myself. This is the first time that I've had a good opportunity publicly to think a student council and the
student body as a whole for establishing and maintaining this symposium of high educational value. And I dare say from what is going on this year high public relations value as well. I think Steve and Dean and their associates have done a marvelous job in bringing some of the leading citizens and scholars of this country compressed into a few weeks to deal with every aspect of a very troublesome problem. Now my task is to give a quick overall view of the causes of violence and possible methods of dealing with it in order to provide for you who attend the whole series. A framework which will perhaps increase your appreciation of the more specialized talk such as my former Chief Justice Earl Warren who no doubt will
deal with the criminal justice system in the specially the courts the philosophers who will debate whether violence is ever justified or not. The two speakers who will deal with violence in the mass media. I have no doubt that my good friend John Gardner will want to revise some of our political institutions. Surely we do need in order to make progress. And I suspect that former Attorney General Ramsey Clark will deal rather broadly with the entire problem. Well let me begin by making the obvious observation that we live in a an urban society. We live in an affluent society and unfortunately we live in a society that's violent. In the convergence of these three characteristics lies a central problem for America in the 1970s
in the metropolitan areas where two thirds of the American people live violent crime is rising and fear is rising in its wake. Fear is manifested in the locked doors the empty streets the growing number of guns bought for self protection. The signs on public buses that say the driver does not carry cash. It is the neglected conditions in American cities that help to account for the rise in violent crime but violent crime is the cancer that may kill the cities and paralyze the suburbs as well. The potential products of American Affluence flights to other planets supersonic transports rebuilt cities affected systems of massive transport clean air and water. All of these will be hollow achievements if at the same time we ignore the despair and alienation of a large portion of our citizens who do not share adequately in America's
affluence. The price of ignoring their situation will be ever mounting rates of violent crime and ever spreading fear with its paralyzing results. Dr. Norvel Morris professor of law and criminology at the University of Chicago said to the Commission on violence. Crime for the first time is a threat to the quality of life in this country. And Dr. Pierce am Cobbs the distinguished black psychiatrist from California said if violence continues at its present pace we may well witness the end of the grand experiment of democracy. And the commission on the causes and prevention of violence. After obtaining the unprecedented help of 200 of the nation's leading scholars in history law sociology criminology psychiatry and other feels after obtaining public have evidence from one hundred fifty individuals ranging from student
radicals to police chiefs from scholars to the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And after considering this complex problem among ourselves for a year and I have. Said to the president of the United States we solemn they declare our conviction that this nation is entering a period in which our people need to be as concerned by the internal dangers to our free society as by any possible combination of external threats. The best estimate of the number of serious crimes committed in the United States each year is 10 million which more than one million two hundred thousand are the violent crimes of homicide aggravated assault forcible rape and armed robbery according to another estimate. More than 1 out of 100 Americans commit a major violent crime in one year. Many more of course commit a serious crime sometime in their lives. This violence in our
midst earns us the distinction of being the clear leader in violent crime among modern stable nations. That's the United States with 200 million people. Average is fifty times as many gun majors murders as do angle in Germany and Japan combined with their total population of two hundred fourteen million fifty times as many per year as these three industrial modern nations combined. This appalling statistic calls to mind other salient features of our culture. The more than 90 million firearms privately owned by Americans give us the distinction of having the highest by far the highest gun to population ratio of any nation on earth. About half of all American homes have a firearm and many have a good many. About 25 million of those weapons are concealable hand-guns.
These are not sporting weapons so dear to the heart of the National Rifle Association. Their only purpose is to kill. They are the firearms used in virtually all aggravated assaults and robberies that involve firearms and three fourths of all the gun murders. Parents I think Les let me add that I continue to be perplexed by the blind emotional resistance that greets any proposal to bring this senseless excess under control. We lag behind every other civilized nation in the world and failing to have a comprehensive affective national policy of firearms control. Yet when the Commission on violence after careful weighing of all the relevant facts and arguments. Recommended a policy of restrictive licensing of handguns and a simple a dedication system for long guns vitriolic mail began pouring into my office out here in Evergreen house
on Charles Street. I was labeled with every epithet I'd ever heard and some I'd never heard before to use the mild ones you shame the Eisenhower name to fascists and even the communists. These last two covering quite a spectrum. Of vociferous opposition of this sort has kept this nation from instituting a sane effective policy of firearms control. In the meantime the senseless tragedies repeat themselves. The domestic quarrel or argument between friends turns into a homicide because a gun is available for acting on that rage. In fact a distinguished psychiatrist who spoke to our commission said that in a moment of rage the possession of a gun in the house is an incitement to murder and thus it is that 50 percent of all the murders are committed by members of the family against other members and 80 percent among friends. Guns are handed to support the yearnings of the sex maniac. Guns are available to those who would
hold up banks filling stations savings and loan associations. And too often the guns are used as more than the threat. So merchants are leaving the city in fear of their lives. Residents are fleeing to the suburbs suburbs and they're installing every known type of prospect a protective device. And in the mean time the police in most parts of the country are without an effective legal maneuver against a criminal who possesses that deadly concealable handgun unless they happen to catch the criminal in the actual act of using it in a crime. If on the other hand we had restrictive licensing of handguns similar to the Sullivan Law of New York state police could with the use of modern electronic equipment to spot a metallic object on the on the suspect and even under recent Supreme Court rulings could frisk that suspect if the suspect were found with a gun and lacked a license.
He could be convicted and sentenced on that evidence alone. There can be no doubt that in a few years the right law would have a profound effect in reducing the crimes of armed robbery aggravated assault. And homicide. But guns alone do not give us the distinction of being the most violent of the advanced societies of the world. Controlling firearms would greatly reduce the palaces and discourage many criminal careers. But international comparisons show that our capacity for acts of rage and rapacity is impressive. Whether or not firearms are involved thus aggravated assault which often is just a murder that didn't work out occurs in the United States at a rate per unit of population twice that of England and Wales 18 times out of Canada. Rape occurs at a rate three times that of Canada 12 times out of England and Wales. Are robbery rate is double that of Canada and nine times that of England and Wales.
To complete the picture of America the violent we'd have to sketch in the Rives that have erupted in American cities in recent years the firebombings campus and public buildings by a lunatic radical minority. The attacks by Bobs on peaceful demonstrators and the outrageous killing of students by law enforcement personnel. By cold statistics group violence has not been a major problem compared to individual acts of violent crime that I've already mentioned. A commission on Violence Study looked back over five years and counted 190 deaths and 9100 injuries from croup group violence mostly in the ghetto including the one here in Baltimore in that same five year period. Fifty three thousand Americans were victims of murder. More than a million were injured in aggravated assaults. And if it is fair to
extrapolate from a Harris poll that we had conducted then with 62 million Americans have been punched or beaten at some time in their lives and twenty four million have been threatened with a gun or actually shot it. So. While group violence is the secondary problem nonetheless its prevalence in high visibility in contemporary America does help to shape attitudes which encourage still more violent crime. A matter I shall return to momentarily. We have to look at the picture of violence in America more closely to see where violent crime is concentrated. If we were to begin to understand its causes and know where to invest our social resources to really reduce its incidence. The National Commission found first that violent crime is concentrated in our larger cities. Their the rate of crime per unit of population is eight times that the rural rate
six times the rate in the small towns. The 26 cities with more than half a million residents each account for only one sixth. Of the nation's population but almost half of the total reported violent crimes. If you live in a metropolitan area today your mathematical chances of becoming a victim of a homicide rape assault or robbery are 1 in one hundred twenty five every year of your life. If you live in the city of Baltimore your mathematical chance of becoming a victim of one of these for a violent crimes is 1 in 49 each year. So during his lifetime or earlier the odds are in favor of a Baltimore resident becoming a victim of a violent crime. Second violent crime in cities is overwhelmingly committed by males. Third violent crime in cities is concentrated among youthful offenders. By far the highest urban arrest rate for homicides occurs in the 18 to 24
age group for rape robbery and aggravated assault arrests in the 15 to 24 age group far outstrip those of any other group. Indeed they are three times as high as for any other age group. Unfortunately there have been disturbing increases in arrest rates among youngsters. The tender ages of 10 to 14 300 percent increase in assault in the last decade and 200 percent increase in this age group. In other crimes for crime in the cities is committed primarily by individuals at the lower end of the socio economic scale with violent crime in the cities stems disproportionately from the ghetto slums. Where discrimination human discrimination is added to low socio economic status. In other words violent crime are especially high. To describe violent crime as primarily a ghetto phenomenon is to make a
statement about social and cultural conditions not about racial characteristics. I emphasize that all evidence indicates that one race is no more criminal genic than another. Professor Martin Wolfgang the eminent sociologist and criminologist at the University of Pennsylvania who served as Cole director of research for the Commission on violence recently published an entire book on this subject summarizing the research over a 20 year period that solid research shows no correlation between race and crime. The correlation is between the total environmental and human conditions in which some people live and crime. 6 the victims of violent crimes in the cities generally have the same characteristics as the offenders. That is they tend to be male. You poor persons and black. Against the dangerous myth that my only crime is a
kind of interracial interracial warfare. I cite the fact that 9 out of 10 urban homicides aggravated assaults and rapes involve victims and offenders of the same race. An exception is robbery. Our study showed that 45 percent of urban robberies involve negroes robbing whites very often young black males robbing somewhat older whites. 7 with the exception of robbery. Violent crimes tend to be acts of passion among intimates and acquaintances as I indicated a moment ago this is true in almost half the cases of rape and the great majority of cases of homicide and assault robbery on the other hand is committed by a stranger. Eight out of 10 times. Finally. The greatest proportion by far of all serious violence. Is committed by repeaters.
Sixty percent of all AB say assaults are by repeaters and as high as 90 percent of robberies. This is even true of youngsters in a study of 10000 boys in Philadelphia. Conducted by Marvin walking six hundred twenty seven boys or only six percent of those in the study accounted for 53 percent of the homicides rapes and assaults known to the police and 71 percent of the robberies in some violent crime in the cities is committed primarily by males rather than females use rather than older people by the poor and unskilled rather than the more successful. By ghetto blacks rather than residents of more affluent sections of the city. The highest rates of violent crime occur in the population where these characteristics all interact. The young the poorer the negro the male. I add the caviar not an obvious one I think that violent crime is not exclusively.
A province of ghetto you alcoholics and drug addicts who are a danger to their fellow citizens come from all strata of society. The thin shell of civility that houses our aggressive impulses has been known to crack open and splay violence and some of the so-called finest families in America. And on the other hand ignore that you do not misunderstand I must emphasize. That the social pathology that exists in the ghetto does not turn every poor young negro male into a criminal nor even a majority of them. It's amazing that so many come out whole and constructive and great citizens. We need to focus our attention on the into ghetto simply because that's where the major problem of violent crime exists. That's where the socially destructive forces are at work breeding violent crime. Which in turn hastens the decay of our cities and that in turn breeds still more crime. There are certain dispositions in American thinking
that tend to block our understanding of ghetto problems. We're hardworking people we believe hard work is important because we believe success however we choose to define success is the inevitable reward of hard work. We return we tend to regard as morally inferior. Those who are failures we tend to say they have only themselves to blame. We tend also to forget how for the hundreds or hundreds of years. The realities of American life have made a cruel mockery of the work for your record ethic for the black segment of our population. We boast of what our immigrant ancestors were able to accomplish and accomplish while ignoring the fact that their assimilation came easier because they were the right color. We forget that they came from Europe with some skills and at a time when industry thrived on labor not on science and technology as today and were welcomed because they were white workers and jobs were waiting for them. We forget that the white immigrant
ghettos had their high rates of crime until those white people were assimilated into the larger society a process that often required several generations. In fact the greatest massacre we ever had the United States was committed by the the Irish in in New York when they killed two hundred two thousand people and injured eight thousand during the Civil War. Indeed the success of white immigrants still isn't all we boast to be there are still twice as many whites living below the poverty line as non-whites. Many who acknowledge that blacks have been pounded to despair by discrimination and many who don't assume that negro parents do not bother to discipline their children and take no interest in their moral development. Yet as Robert Coles the well-known Harvard psychiatrist has pointed out Negro children probably receive more punitively enforce reminders of what is right and wrong than any other segment of our population. But consider
how hollow the maternal admonitions begin to sound once the realities get to you start to impinge on a black youngsters awareness. Like every American mother she says to him work hard in school. It's the only way to get ahead. What measure of reality does that have for the ghetto youth. There are no examples of educated successful men in his immediate experience. His father if he has one and the man up and down the block sweat at menial. And intermittent jobs the one across the street with a fancy convertible isn't working for the Sanitation Department. He's pushing drugs or robbing corner grocery stores in the crowded apartment there are no quiet places for study no books or serious magazines no conversation to stimulate the intellect. On the other hand there is the constant lure of the modern television set.
The average young ghetto resident by the time he is 18. Well I've spent more time watching television than he spent in school. By the way that figure is based upon solid research and is not just a smart comment for me to make. There is also the lure of the street where the other children are running and playing often deep into the night. And whatever youngster may have to engage in crime or use drugs to be accepted by his peers. Here is what Professor Wall Gang has called the subculture of violence. The neighborhood school dilapidated and poorly equipped has accommodated itself to defeat. It asked only for a modicum of discipline ignores the strivings of eager students and the indifference of rebellious students and automatically promoted to the next higher grade. Every student just so it can have room for the next crop of undereducated and unmotivated children.
If the ghetto youth has the determination to swim against the tides all the way to a high school diploma and of course many do not. Though many do. He may find a job are further educational opportunities waiting for him. In the past few years. Barriers to advancement for a high school educated blacks have been falling. But if he drops out as so many do he may find that the door to meaningful job opportunities is close to it. In the American value system he's now a full fledged fave and he's quite aware of all those material comforts displayed and advertised in the television screen are not to be heroes at least not by legitimate means. So why not use violence to get what needs to be somebody. He has little to gain by playing according to society's rules and little to lose by not he's familiar with violence in the disintegrated community of the ghetto violent quarrels brawls and careers and crimes are commonplace. Violence is also a way of proving
managers especially in the street gangs of the inner city. The larger society apparently does not find violence abhorrent violence is a constant theme in our television dramas and violence is touted in American folklore and history. Americans love their guns. They have as I've said the highest gun to population ratio in a nation in the world. So considering the pressures frustrations and temptations that work on the youth in the ghettos the wonder is that violent crime rates in the cities are not higher than they actually are. And yet conditions in the ghettos have been improving during this past decade incomes of negroes in cities increased the percentage of blacks committing high school rose as did the percentage entering universities and unemployment rates dropped significantly. So we're faced with an apparent paradox. While conditions have been improving for inner city blacks rates of violent crime
among them have been soaring Unbelievably the violence commission found that the come not the per unit rate of violent crime among them increased 100 percent in the decades of the 60s 100 percent while conditions were improving. This is an appalling and frightening development you may be interested knowing. That the rate of all crime in this country decreased steadily from 1900 down to about 1960 and then suddenly took this turn upward and increased 100 percent. A partial answer to this paradox is that real gains for blacks are still less significant gaps between their conditions and those of the whites. That's for example the negro unemployment rate continues to be twice that provides and unemployment abang black teenagers in cities is actually been increasing. Last
year it stood at 25 percent which was two and a half times the unemployment rate for white teenagers. And of course this is one of the high criminal agenda groups. But secondly demographic changes in this country would lead one to expect an increase in violent crime. The age group most involved 15 to 24 has soared both in number and proportion of the total population from 20 million ten years ago to 29. Nearly 30 million today and from 11 percent of the population to about 15 percent. Then the increasing urbanization of our society also helps to account for the rise in violent crime. When Abraham Lincoln was still president 50 percent of all of our people in agriculture when I was roaming the streets of Abilene Kansas youngster 25 percent were now only 5 percent are engaged in agriculture and 67 percent live in our great metropolitan centers. Actually in the past 10 years the spectacular growth has taken place in the suburbs.
Middle class mostly affluent whites. Have been moving out of the cities leaving them increasingly to the poor black population which suffers in adequate services financed by applying a declining tax base. Another Democratic demographic change of some bearing is the increasing instability of American families. Divorces and separations are on the rise in every segment of the population but nowhere so much as among poor blacks in our cities. At present only 22 percent of the poor black children in the central central cities live with both parents. Ten years ago half of the children in that category lived with both. A sad circumstances that should have been improved not permitted to grow worse. I now make a statement that the commission did not make as a finding it's my own belief that this particular change is a major consequence and that when a stick welfare system. And I think it's time that the Congress the United States passed legislation and completely revised that system.
Who will ensure a tractor in this hundred percent increase in the past decade has been a vast increase in the number of firearms in private hands I don't think I need to labor this. The sale each year long guns is doubling but the sale of those concealable killing and guns is quadrupling. Fourth. We're living in a time of profound changes technological occupational social and cultural. Times of great change. Change how we think how we work or even how we live. They set us adrift from our meringues and create tensions and uncertainties. If American parents seem unduly permissive if they appear to be unsure about the values to encourage in their children and the standards to inculpate Perhaps it is because American society has already changed greatly since their childhood and is destined to
change even more in the future. In the absence of clear cut expectations and standards the traditional social controls have lost their grip and violence is one result of the breakdown. This may explain why violence is rising among youth in affluent middle class homes as well as in the ghettos. A fifth unrelated change events in the 1970s 60s have served to diminish the respect accorded the institutions of government. The spectacle of governors defying court orders. Policemen beating demonstrators mobs looting stores with impunity. Some college students destroying property and then demanding amnesty of elected officials exposed incorrect corrupt corruption. All these and more have served to encourage a cynical disrespect for law and law making and law enforcing institutions. Besides encouraging the attitude that lawful behavior is just for the suckers. Such events tend to
give direct legitimacy to violence. The deep divisions within our society set off my tensions of anger but the readiness with which some groups get violent expressions of their anger and impatience creates an appealing contagious but very dangerous object lesson thus urban riots had a powerful lesson for the ghetto you. They seem to see that it was perfectly alright to vent one's dissatisfaction in acts of violence. More recently violence is distinguished of course from peaceful protests. On the nation's campuses has probably had an effect even more powerful than those ghetto riots. If the most privileged young people can have their violent donnybrook from a ghetto youth is entitled to say why shouldn't I. Of course the frustrations of get a life are very very real. The frustrations in recent years have been especially deep because of the so-called revolution of rising
expectations. Life for Americans generally has indeed grown more comfortable and rewarding. There's been noticeable improvements for the poor. But delivery of improvements in the ghetto has not kept pace with the political promises of our leaders or with the poor and the disadvantaged have come to expect it is hardly surprising that the resulting frustrations give rise to violent crime. I think I should emphasize that in my judgment this is the most single. Emphatic cause of the recent increase. In Crime in the central cities. There is a well-established principle in the academia called the J curve. We have a paper in the research material submitted Commission which runs about 100 pages. I can describe it in two sentences. If you have a period of rising expectations as we had properly among minority groups in this country over a period of years and then expectation or at realisation falls off this is the J curve. It is an
absolute guarantee not only now but throughout history of serious violence. There remains one very serious or obvious reason for mounting crime in our society. The increasing failure of law enforcement agencies to cope with it. Consider the grim statistics. Ten million crimes were committed in the United States last year. About a half of these crimes were not even reported. Only 12 percent of those 10 million crimes. Resulted in the arrest of anyone. Only six percent. Resulted in the conviction of anyone and this 6 percent included many police to a lesser offense than the original charge. And note this. Of the 10 million crimes only one and a half percent resulted in the incarceration of anyone. And of those who were incarcerated most will eventually return to prison another
time for another offense as Lloyd Cutler an eminent lawyer and executive director of the violence commission remarked of the statistics. It would be hard to argue that crime does not pay. The sad fact is that our criminal justice system as presently operated does not deter or does not detect does not convict and does not correct. As crimes go unpunished and as a few criminals go through the correctional system changes for the worse instead of the better by the way. It is no wonder crime is on the increase as police departments in American cities are understaffed and under equipped. Police are undereducated under-trained. Juvenile courts have failed to live up to their humane ideal. The lower courts in which most adults are tried too often have crowded documents dockets people waiting two years for a trial. Inadequate procedures for investigating and
necessarily shoddy ways of dispensing justice. The jails in which indigent defendants sit awaiting trials have been aptly described as rabbit warrens prisons have earned the label schools for criminals. Indeed in most of our. Detention places in this country the prisons we put the first offender in with a hardened criminal they all come out hardened inside the prison walls are terrorists societies room are by prisoners than by guards lacking equipment insufficient sufficient professional staff present training programs are outmoded and rehabilitation services are wholly inadequate. At the end of their terms most prisoners are thrust out on the street without meaningful help and readjustment. The Crime Commission back in one thousand sixty seven the one that preceded ours studied the deplorable conditions of our criminal justice system and in its report to the president made dozens of thoughtful recommendations
for improving all aspects. Of the criminal justice system the police the courts and the correctional systems. The National Commission on violence added a few recommendations of its own mostly having to do with improving coordination among the various agencies of the system and I won't go into that. This is certainly not the occasion for detailing a lot of. Many recommendations to overcome this problem but I do want to call your attention to one recommendation of the violence commission namely that we as a nation give concrete expression to our concern about crime by a solemn national commitment to double our investment in the administration of justice. As rapidly as such investment can be wisely planned and utilized. At present our end tired criminal justice system in this country federal state and local. Receives less than 2 percent of governmental revenues. Less than three quarters of 1 percent of our
national income. We spend less on this pitifully in adequate system than we do on the federal agricultural programs and not much more than we do on the space program. Responsibility for police courts and corrections has resided mostly with state local governments. This is as it should be. But these governments do not have the financial resources to deepen their investment improving and improving the criminal justice system. And so. The financial commitment must be a federal one. The federal government after all takes the lion's share of the tax revenues and so it will have to take the major financial responsibility. In boosting our criminal whole criminal justice system to deter crime. Administer justice. Fairly. And bring wrongdoers back into a productive rolled society. The Council of Economic Advisors has estimated that 19 billion dollars annually will be
freed for domestic programs. Once our military engagement ends in South East Asia which surely ought to be soon a host of long neglected needs at home will be competing for those dollars. The criminal justice system is one of them. We ought to proceed now to plan the use of those future dollars very wisely. A firm commitment now in the form of organic legislation to increase greatly our expenditures in the criminal justice system would permit planners within the system to make effective reforms once the money becomes available. But I am not suggesting that the criminal justice system should be given priority over all other competing competing needs of our society quite the contrary. In our report to the president. The National Commission on violence spoke of the twin objectives making violence both unnecessary and unrewarding. Neither corrective approach will succeed without the other. Making violence unrewarding
is a job for a law enforcement agency making violence unnecessary is nothing less than the task of giving all Americans a satisfactory stake in the life of this great free community. We must seek to eradicate poverty where it persists improve education where it's deficient. And provide health care in areas of the community where it's inadequate and beyond the financial reach of citizens. Everett's to remake our cities must include steps to eliminate the ghettos to provide decent housing for everyone to build effective mass transcends especially for those who cannot afford automobiles and to assure adequate measures for the upkeep of every neighborhood. Our national goal should be the dignity of work for every citizen capable of work. Our overriding goal in all such programs should be to provide every citizen a stake in this community. The citizen who has much to gain by living by the rules and in concert with his fellow citizens has much to
lose by defying the rules and rebuking the community. I add the caution that we ought not to pursue these social measures merely in the name of crime eradication. The high correlation of the outward symbols of debt deprivation bad housing low educational achievement high unemployment with violent crime. Does not mean that improvements in the former will lead inexorably to complete elimination of the latter. Physical conditions can be changed by concerted effort. But attitudes and habits will change only through inner and like minded. The human animal is complex and there is more to violent crime than a simple reaction to alienating circumstances. Rather we opt to undertake these social reform measures because they are the proper humane things to do. Reordering our national priority
is to give new emphasis to the quality of life for every citizen is a realistic goal for this affluent society. It is a worthy new phase for a nation that has subdued a continent physically and accomplished so much scientifically and technologically. And these are matters not to be left to government alone. It is the job of all of us as private citizens to seek deep understanding of the problem of violence in our society to voice concern over the deficiencies in our society that give rise to violence and to help remedy these deficiency in our private capacity. It's the job of local schools churches and citizen groups to emphasize and transmit more effectively than they have in the past the values that will make our society more humane and less violent. It's also their job to lend encourage meant to you to participate creatively in society at all of its levels. It's the job of our nation's scholars to seek a better understanding of the roots of violence and to design and evaluate more effective measure measures for discouraging it.
And it's the job of all of us and especially those of us who have been privileged by education to repudiate violence and live by the precepts of tolerance reasonableness and civility. So that others may see that violence is unnecessary and measured by the highest standard. Truly unrewarding. I conclude this overview of a troublesome national problem. With two brief quotations from the report of my commission to the president. We said order is indispensable to society. Law is indispensable to order. And enforcement is indispensable to law. And then to make this thought complete and legitimate we added the Justice and the decency of the law and its enforcement are not simply embellishments. But rather the indispensable condition of respect for law and civil peace in a free
society. Thank you very much. And. FEE. Dr. Eisenhower has agreed to answer questions from the floor. Dr. Eisenhower what relationship did your commission found between drug use and crime and particularly did you find any change in crime in areas where effective drug treatment programs have been with that place. We had some. Very knowledgeable persons in the field of drugs appear before the commission particular the commissioner. Of Drug Control of New York City who is a very distinguished black citizen. And all the evidence before us indicate that drugs in themselves
are not crime inducing. Indeed they tend to make an individual more passive than belligerent. But unfortunately the simple truth seems to be that some of the drugs are so frightfully expensive such as heroin raising to a cost of fifty two hundred dollars a day that many users have to resort to a life of crime in order to get the money. The first one I'd like to thank you for your excellent talk. I'm curious to know why are other so-called well developed nations have such a lower crime rate. And what the reasons might be for them. This may take me a little while to. Answer. But I think it may be important. To. Look around the world. Look at Ireland. Same race all white people. Long common history. And people killing one another because of differences over
religion. Look at Belgium common history. All white. Unified nation since 1913. The major differences one speaks Flemish and the other speaks French and while they're not killing one another they're so. And taken a stick toward one another that the national life legislature is actually thinking of dividing itself into two parts one the commission for northern Belgium and one for seven in the whole nation is only the size of Maryland. Then look at. The Middle East. Where the Jews and the Arabs are all Semites. So you have two differences religion and nationalism. And it's brutally. Violent. Look at Canada our nearest neighbor. Been an independent nation almost as long as we have divided into two with some violence even capturing officials and murdering them by dissident groups who want
independence for one portion of it. And then look at the island of Trinidad where there are three races. Black. Chinese of the third generation and Indians from the continent of India the third generation. Under British rule the Indians became professional people the Chinese. Shop owners and the blacks while occupying some of the highest jobs. Many laborers. They now control the country. And unfortunately the discrimination against the other two groups is so serious that the professional Indians are fleeing the island. We have all of these conditions in the United States. And on top of that we have all of the killing guns that I have been talking about. We are also the most affluent society in the world which has given rise to the permissiveness that I mentioned. As I went on. And finally may I say that I think perhaps we have had our hearts in our minds so set on other goes that we let this
problem build up without sufficient attention to it as we so often do on many problems such as civil rights and not until it's brought dramatically to our attention. Do we make up our minds we have to do something about it. Yes I want to so he would perhaps give us your own personal view of this on the philosophical question of when violence is justified and perhaps in particular you would like to comment on the well-known radical thesis that the only way appropriate way to respond to international violence is to create internal violence. Let me say that there's a gentleman sitting in this office in this audience. Who knows a lot more about. The history of crime and its effect than I do and that's Professor Hugh Graham. Who was. Co-director of the task force on the history of violence which did such a
magnificent job for the commission. And their book has become a bestseller. But I think it's not at all conclusive that I know that violence historically has ever solved any problem. Of the 13 members of the commission. Seven said it is never justified. Their reasoning being that there probably isn't an organized group in America that doesn't feel disaffected or abused by some. Law on the books of the United States or the state or of the community or local community. And if he just seeks to take the law into its own hand with respect. To what it disagrees with we would have anarchy. And as Margaret Chase Smith said in this country the answer to Anarky will not be liberalism.
It will be Nazi ism. And I think that's a fairly convincing argument. One more question I think I noticed during your talk used several times such phrases as decent people and law abiding citizens I love to use that phrase exactly but I wonder if the commission addressed itself to the notion it's become very popular in sociology now that that distinction between law abiding people and criminals is actually a non-existent one and one which is lead to unfortunate misuses of power. I'm afraid that that's playing with rhetoric and I'm not playing with rhetoric I'm playing with a serious problem that needs to be corrected so I simply can't buy. I thank you all very much. This has been perspectives on violence. Today's featured speaker was Dr. Milton as Eisenhower presented under the auspices of Johns
Perspectives on Violence
Episode Number
Producing Organization
WBJC (Radio station : Baltimore, Md.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-610vv26w).
Series Description
The Perspectives on Violence radio program showcases a series of pre-recorded lectures from the 1970 Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium at Johns Hopkins University. Each episode features a speech from the thirteen part "Perspectives on Violence" conference. Speakers discuss the political, historical, and sociological issues related to violence in the United States in the 1970's. The program was produced by the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting and WBJC-FM Baltimore with the National Educational Radio Network.
Event Coverage
War and Conflict
Politics and Government
Law Enforcement and Crime
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: WBJC (Radio station : Baltimore, Md.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 71-1-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Perspectives on Violence; 1,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2022,
MLA: “Perspectives on Violence; 1.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 28, 2022. <>.
APA: Perspectives on Violence; 1. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from