THE NATURAL LAW PARTY envisions an America free of crime, where all citizens live fully in accord with both natural law and national law; where people freely move on the streets without fear; and where Americans live and work together harmoniously for both their own fulfillment and the national good.
Crime costs Americans $450 billion annually . Despite two decades of get tough policies -- with longer, often mandatory prison sentences -- the rate of crime in America is high compared to other developed nations . Of gravest concern, juvenile violent crime has spiraled during the past decade -- especially urban gang and school violence using guns . According to the Centers for Disease Control, American youths are 12 times more likely to die by gunfire than their peers in other nations. An FBI crime report concluded that every American has a realistic chance of being murdered because of the random nature [that] crime has assumed.
America's criminal justice system is under constant strain. Courts, police, probation and parole agencies, and prisons are overworked and inadequate to deal with the high level of crime .
Clearly, a get-tough policy is not enough. Effective crime prevention is also crucial. Yet despite the dismal track record of get-tough approaches, Republican and Democratic legislators ignore proven preventive strategies and press for more police, more prisons, and stiffer punishment. Consider the following :
Building more prisons has not worked.
Since 1971, the U.S. prison population has increased sixfold to over 1.8 million incarcerated in 1500 state and federal prisons and 3000 jails. The U.S. now has the largest percentage of its citizens behind bars apart from Russia 
. Incarceration acts like a quarantine, preventing a faster acceleration of crime, but fails to eradicate the source of the crime epidemic.
The threat of punishment is not enough.
Most violent crime is an impulsive response to an immediate stressful situation, often committed under the influence of drugs or alcohol -- not a rational, considered action 
Many experts feel that prisons train inmates to be better criminals 
. Most violent crime is committed by hard-core repeat offenders: the majority of all prisoners commit new crimes and are arrested within three years of release.
More police on the street does not lower crime.
Published reports indicate that increased police patrols in major U.S. cities have had little effect on crime rates 
. Washington, D.C., for example, has the highest police/population ratio in the nation -- and one of the highest violent crime rates. The $25 billion crime bill designed to deploy 100,000 more police represents merely a drop in the bucket and is hardly effective or cost-effective.
Increasing recognition of the need for prevention has led to experimental approaches such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) and midnight basketball. Unfortunately, long-term scientific studies have found no significant effects on crime and drug abuse from such programs .
The Natural Law Party believes that these bandaid approaches do not work because they fail to address the root cause of crime -- the epidemic of stress throughout society. During the past two decades, medical science has documented the alarming rise of stress-related illness such as hypertension, stroke, and heart disease. This same build-up of stress is responsible for a similar rise in social illnesses -- crime, drug abuse, domestic violence, and family disintegration.
Current crime prevention programs overlook the psychological and physiological devastation wrought by constant, traumatic stress. Stress causes a complex psychophysiological chain reaction that makes the nervous system hyperexcited and unstable . Chronic, acute stress leads to serious physiological malfunction. Among other effects, the bodys neurochemical balance is distorted, producing abnormally high levels of cortisol (a primary stress hormone) and low levels of serotonin (a key neurotransmitter) . This out-of-balance biochemistry has been linked with anxiety, fear, anger, impulsive violent behavior, and substance abuse .
Moreover, the combined stress of all the individuals in society builds up and creates a dangerous, criminal atmosphere in the whole community. This societal stress and tension becomes a breeding ground for more crime and violence. Thus, to reduce crime, stress must be reduced in at-risk individuals and throughout society.
Reducing social stress -- In addition to a tough penal
code as a deterrent to crime, the Natural Law Party offers systematic, scientifically
proven programs to reduce stress in the individual and throughout society -- thus
eliminating the root cause of crime. At least one such program, the Transcendental
Meditation program, has been scientifically shown to (1) reduce individual
and social stress; (2) reduce cortisol and increase serotonin production in
the body, thus counteracting the neurochemical imbalances produced by stress;
and (3) decrease anxiety, hostility, and anger, and improve psychological development
and moral reasoning .
Forty-three published scientific studies have shown that large groups practicing the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program in one location reduce social stress and violence. These studies, which have investigated the impact of such groups on communities, cities, and entire nations, have consistently found decreases in crime, war deaths, and other negative social indicators, as well as improvements in economy and national mood . This innovative approach offers a highly cost-effective, scientifically proven strategy to eliminate the fundamental cause of crime through reducing individual and societal stress.
Effective prison rehabilitation -- The most cost-effective prevention strategy is to target those individuals who are at highest risk for crime -- the current prison inmate population, 90% of whom will be released from prison. A five-year Harvard study investigated the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique in a maximum security prison. Inmates who learned the practice decreased significantly in stress, aggression, and mental disorders. Violence throughout the prison decreased, and the rate of return to prison among participating inmates was 30-35% less than for four other treatment groups . Similar studies in 28 other maximum security prisons have shown equally impressive results . (Current rehabilitation strategies put the cart before the horse. They try to reeducate and reform inmates without first changing inmates from within by eliminating the stress that makes them uninterested in education or incapable of being reformed .)
Community policing -- In New York City, a new initiative called computer-assisted community policing has been credited with reducing crime by 40% over two years. In this approach, police are assigned to high-crime neighborhoods identified by computer tracking, work closely with these neighborhoods, and are rewarded for preventing crime. According to statistics from the New York Police Department, murder in New York City dropped 31% during the first half of 1995 compared to the first six months of 1994, with similar reductions in other categories of violent crime. This striking improvement led one journalist to refer to New York as the suddenly safer city .
Urban revitalization -- Our overcrowded, decaying urban centers obviously contribute to the rise of stress and crime. Any program to reduce crime must involve a comprehensive plan to revitalize the inner cities, as laid out in our Revitalizing Our Inner Cities section.
Drug and alcohol rehabilitation -- A high proportion of crimes are committed under the influence of alcohol and drugs. A recent study of crime in New York City found that tobacco, alcohol, and drug abuse cost the city's taxpayers and corporations $20 billion in 1994 -- 21 cents of every tax dollar . The Natural Law Party would introduce programs proven to reduce drug dependency, eliminate stress, and promote mental and physical health .
Preventing youth crime -- School dropouts are at highest risk for crime and drug abuse. The Natural Law Party strongly supports more effective educational programs to keep children in school, off the streets, and out of the reach of crime. Our proven educational programs unfold greater creativity and intelligence and develop ideal citizenship by raising life to be in accord with natural law and national law (see our Education section). The Natural Law Partys strong educational focus is the true, long-term solution to the pervasive problem of crime.
The Natural Law Party is the only political party with a truly comprehensive, scientifically proven strategy to reduce crime. Our approach is the most hard-headed and hard-hitting, since it focuses on scientifically proven programs that work. Our prevention-oriented approach will save the nation hundreds of billions of dollars and prevent immeasurable anguish and suffering in the lives of millions of Americans who are victims of crime each year.
- See Victim Costs and Consequences: A New Look, a comprehensive survey just published by the National Institute of Justice (the research branch of the Justice Department).
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the United States 1993, Uniform Crime Reports, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, 1997.
- According to the National Center for Juvenile Justice (1995), the murder rate among 14- to 17-year-olds increased 165% during the last ten years, and the number of arrests for violent crime among 10- to 17-year-olds doubled. In addition, according to USA Today (November 13, 1995, p. 1A), the number of teenage arrests on weapons charges has doubled since 1985.
- America leads the industrialized world in murders -- almost four times the annual U.S. casualty rate during the Vietnam War (see Wilson, J., Commentary, September 1994, p. 25). The 1996 FBI annual crime statistics for the U.S. reported 19,650 murders, 95,770 rapes, 537,050 robberies, 1,029,810 aggravated assaults, and 2,501,500 burglaries. (See Federal Bureau of Investigation, op. cit.)
- See S. R. Donziger (ed.), The Real War on Crime, New York: HarperCollins, 1996.
- See U.S. News and World Report, March 23, 1997, p.33. U.S. Department of Justice figures (press release, August 27, 1995) indicate that 5.1 million Americans are under some form of correctional supervision -- prison, jail, parole, or probation.
- See Petersilia, J., Crime and Punishment in California: Full Cells, Empty Pockets, and Questionable Benefits, CPS Brief, Berkeley, CA: California Policy Seminars, May 1993.
- Petersilia, op. cit., p. 10; Sampson, R., and Laub, C., Crime in the Making, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, p. 255.
- The Newark Foot Patrol Experiment, 1981; The Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment: A Summary Report, Washington, DC: Police Foundation, 1974. See also Wilson, James Q., What to Do About Crime, Commentary, 1994, pp. 215-234.
- Social Problems 41(3):448-472, 1994. See also R.A. Mendel, Prevention or Pork? A Hard-Headed Look at Youth-Oriented Anti-Crime Programs, Washington, D.C.: Youth Policy Forums, 1995.
- Sapolsky, R., Stress, the Aging Brain, and the Mechanisms of Neuron Death, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992.
- Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 11:89-117, 1994.
- Archives of General Psychiatry 49:429-435, 436-441, 1992; Life Sciences 33:2609-2614, 1983.
- Journal of Clinical Psychology 45: 957-974, 1989; Society of Neuroscience Abstracts 18:1541, 1992; Journal of Neural Transmission 39:257-267, 1976; Criminal Justice and Behavior 5:3-20, 1978; Dissertation Abstracts International, 51:5048, 1991.
- Dissertation Abstracts International 43:539b, 1982.
- For a fuller discussion of this approach to rehabilitation and crime prevention, see Marcus, Jay B., The Crime Vaccine, Baton Rouge, LA: Claitor's Books, 1996.
- Horowitz, C., The Suddenly Safer City, New York magazine, August 14, 1995.
- See Califano, Joseph A., Substance Abuse in Urban America: Its Impact on an American City, New York, Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Cornell University, February 1996.