Youth Crime and Urban Policy: A View from the Inner City

By Robert L. Woodson | Go to book overview

Foreword

This unusual forum, sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, brings together both scholars and nonprofessionals concerned with juvenile crime prevention. They include former gang members and other inner-city youth who through community grassroots programs are helping to make their neighborhoods safe.

This forum is part of the AEI mediating structures program, which studies the links between individuals on the one hand and political, economic, and social institutions on the other. Intermediate structures such as neighborhood groups, voluntary associations, churches, families, and ethnic subgroupings bridge the gap between individuals--who may be isolated, powerless, and lonely--and large, often impersonal structures, such as big government, big business, big social programs, and big education.

Fundamental to this program is a recognition that economic satisfaction and personal security, however important, are merely two aspects of personal well-being. If we act wisely, we can improve our personal well-being, but only if we reexamine the individual in his or her relationship to other citizens, to government, and to social problems. Individuals voluntarily working and planning together can help solve many of our most pressing public policy questions.

Despite expenditures by the federal government to upgrade our urban centers, they continue to decline. Clearly, something different is required to make our efforts effective. We must determine the mix of public policies and neighborhood strategies most likely to lead to urban revitalization. We must find new grounds for optimism in the residents of our cities and develop programs in which government plays a supporting role. These residents--individually and at times banded together--should play the primary role in preserving their own dignity and in making themselves self-sufficient.

This transcript of our forum has been edited lightly to preserve the informal, conversational nature of the discussion. We believe that the exchanges offer a valuable insight into the problems the participants have faced. And, we believe, it is an excellent way to encourage the "competition of ideas" that is AEI's trademark.

WILLIAM J. BAROODY, JR. President American Enterprise Institute

-xiii-

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