U.S. policymakers should look for responses to crime that “go back to the causes” and don’t rely on long prison sentences, former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young told the American Society of Criminology yesterday. Young, who said he often visits prisons, noted that they are costly, and added, “People are looking for answers to the high costs of crime–crime is expensive.” Young, also a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, spoke to criminologists as they opened their annual meeting, this year in Atlanta. Young generally favored a crime crime prevention approach, saying that “it has to start in the third or fourth grade.”
In his early years, Young, now 81, was a pastor and worked for the National Council of Churches. Yesterday, he said that good anticrime policy depends on cooperation among the police, schools, the community and religious leaders, and he faulted churches for not doing enough in the fight against crime. Young spoke favorably about one practice of former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox, known mostly for his segregationist stances. Young said Maddox pardoned several hundred prisoners each Christmas, and relatively few committed new crimes.