I did finish reading the book, The Locust Effect, a few weeks ago, but just now am putting together some thoughts about the conclusion of the book. It has been a book that is unsettling, dealing with real examples of poverty, violence, and human suffering. I will say, however, that the authors, Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros, have made excellent suggestions for responding to the problems. I encourage you to read the book, especially for the conclusions and suggestions for being part of the solution. Here are a few of the challenging but optimistic proposals.
Is There Hope?
They tell us that, “It has been done before.” Citing examples of cities around the world, including the United States, at different times in history, they point out that seemingly impossible changes have been made before. It was estimated that in 1890’s New York City 90% of people arrested did not receive due process. Theodore Roosevelt became the Chief of Police and things began to change for the better. Los Angeles of the 1870’s saw violent pogroms against the Chinese population.
These and many other stories tell the powerful truth, that change is possible.
I want you to read the book, so I don’t want to give away the ending. I will tell you that chapter 10 gives several “common themes” (pages 229-240) of the changes that have happened before, and can happen again. Here are a few…
“Each movement of criminal justice reform required local ownership and leadership of a very intentional effort to transform the justice system.” Now here is a tough issue to deal with… Haugen and Boutros state that they believe, “in every society there are people, interests, and institutions that are intentionally trying to make the justice system fail and to make poor people and marginalized groups weaker and more vulnerable to violence.”
“Committed community leaders and reform-minded elites played a critical role.” Yes, we need even the elites, even though this word is often used disparagingly against people who seem to have social power. Simply, sometimes it takes a good elite to catch a bad elite.
“The priority goal of effective transformation efforts was a criminal justice system that prevented violence and crime and built trust with the people.” It looks as though both of these are needed, and that we cannot afford to have either one of them to fail, or even get behind the other.
Projects of Hope
The next signal of hope being restored is what the authors call Projects of Hope. These are selected areas in which the principles discovered and advocated by the International Justice Mission can be organized, funded, staffed, and put into action. These will then be used to demonstrate the accuracy and effectiveness of the approach.
One such place is Cibu City, of The Philippines. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a team from IMJ were given four years to do two things, 1) transform local law enforcement in the fight against sex trafficking of minors, and 2) demonstrate to outside auditors a measurable 20 % reduction in the availability of children in the sex trafficking industry of Cibu City. When the four years were finished, there was 1) a 1000% improvement in the rescue of victims and in the prosecution of perpetrators, and 2) there was a measurable 79% reduction in the availability of children in the commercial sex trade.
This success story, in addition to others, allows the advocates of the IJM approach to point to demonstrable evidence that the approach works. This Hope for our world is not a Hope Deferred.
“…they took the truth that everybody knew(about corruption, incompetence, and abuse), and they made it a truth that nobody could ignore.”