Fighting crime is really applied Psychology. Behavior Modification 101. In order to change behavior we have two options: positive and negative reinforcement. Since we can't afford to pay people to be good, we are left with the negative. In order for the negative reinforcement to be effective it must be swift, certain and severe enough to extinquish the behavior. Consider that one time you burned your hand on a hot stove; swift, certain and severe. The negative reward was also introduced almost instantaneously. Therein lies much of the problem with the CJ system. The punishment, if it ever comes, isn't even remotely associated with the act.
Since roughly 1 percent of the population commits 99% of the crime and about 1% of that 1% commit the serious crimes or are habitual, I believe we should concentrate on those offenders. I am putting information together right now that details frequent offenders. I want to know what person has been arrested the highest number of times? Care to take a guess at the number? I think I've already got the guy, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone else takes the prize.
I believe if a person has been arrested 10 times or more, he or she needs special attention. It is rather obvious that whatever the system has been doing is failing. Drug dealers should also get special attention, but not at the expense of the other career criminals. They are all a blight on society.
I have come up with a program that I call Adopt-A-Cellblock. In this program all the area churches would form a group then assign cellblocks to "adopt". Those people would minister to the inmates in that cellblock by going into the family situation to see what their needs are. This goes beyond carrying a toothbrush to the jail and reading some scripture. It takes a little more work, but I believe the dividends could be huge.
I would also bring the business community into this and let them be a part of adopting these cellblocks. They could help teach people to read, so they are at least employable. They could also work with these inmates to try to put them into jobs.
The alternative is to continue to spin the cycle, only faster and faster.