Crime Bill Should Go Heavy on Prevention

I agree with the article ``More Prisons Not a Cure to Crime, Experts Say,'' Feb. 23.

The so-called Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act passed the United States Senate with a 95-4 vote on Nov. 19, 1993, with no hearings or testimony whatsoever. The Senate's $22.3 billion draconian crime bill, which is currently pending in the House, offers more of what we already know does not work: The majority of money is allocated to fund new prisons, boot camps, and ultra-powerful law enforcement, while a paltry sum is earmarked for drug treatment, which has been proven as an effective crime-preventive measure.

The crime bill is a tough-standing, knee-jerk, myopic proposition. How can we spend $22.3 billion in taxpayers' money - plus many times that amount in unfunded mandates to the states - to build more prisons, when we cannot find money to build libraries or improve health care or education?

The US already has more people in prison per capita than any other country in the world - more than China, Russia, or South Africa.

Let's be tough on crime, but let's be smart about it. We should instead be supporting the crime bill sponsored by Rep. Craig Washington (D) of Texas, which focuses money on community programs and preventive measures. Get guns and violent predators off the streets, but do not take money from programs that offer real hope of less crime. Robert Huddle, Galesburg, Ill.

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