A Military Solution To Prison Spillover


REP. Newt Gingrich (R) of Georgia says America's crime problem reflects a ``lack of will,'' not a lack of resources to deal with it.

Every day, the United States records an average of 65 murders. Yet every day, America's jails give 979 felons early release because of prison overcrowding, Representative Gingrich says.

Gingrich told a Monitor breakfast meeting with reporters yesterday that President Clinton should provide temporary prisons on military bases across the nation to stop the release of violent felons into society.

``That of itself would be a significant step'' in halting the crime wave that worries so many Americans, Gingrich says.

The crime issue arose when reporters asked Gingrich about what the American response should be to the latest deaths of 68 Bosnians in a mortar attack. He noted that the US loses nearly that many Americans to murder every day.

On the Bosnia crisis, Gingrich says he has three ``strong thoughts.''

First, the President should clearly define what America's goals are in that embattled region.

Second, if military force is needed, then the President must lay out specifically what the nation's military objectives are, and then he should use the full power of the nation's armed forces to achieve those objectives quickly.

Third, Clinton should be prepared to pay for any military expedition, rather than expanding the federal budget deficit.

Gingrich, who is the House Republican whip, says talk among the allies about using a gradual approach to ending the fighting in Bosnia is ``foolishness'' - the kind of thinking that led to the costly war in Vietnam.

Turning to the health care debate, Gingrich says ``it isn't likely'' that the plan proposed by the president will pass without signficant changes.

Gingrich cautions, however, that Clinton should not be underestimated. If he brings all the powers of the presidency to bear, the final plan could be ``something closer to the [original] Clinton plan than we expect.''

The congressman says one potential outcome to the health debate would be a centrist bill that solves most of the serious health-care problems without a new federal bureaucracy.

Such a plan would provide universal access to insurance, prevent insurance companies from refusing coverage because of preexisting conditions, and permit workers to take their health insurance with them when they changed jobs.

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