If you struggle with the question of whether education prevents crime, or the lack thereof causes it, a recent story about a multi-billion Medicare fraud case should help you decide.
In a nutshell, having a quality education does not prevent crime; therefore, the lack of education does not cause crime.
Crime describes a way of thinking in which a person attempts to justify harming others for self-gain. That’s the basic internal cause. Outside factors such as education, heredity, family background and social issues play no role in causing crime. At best, these circumstances and conditions contribute heavily to when I am exposed to crime, and might even play a role in my “crime of choice.” Nevertheless, these factors-exposure and crime of choice-are not causative.
Now the Medicare fraud case!
In a recent issue of the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Bulletin, Jay Weaver, a reporter with the Miami Herald, wrote the following summary of this huge criminal enterprise: “Medicare paid almost $12 million to (Dr. Jorge J.) Dieppa’s alleged ring, accused of working with health care agencies that submitted $19 million in phony claims. Medicare fraud costs $60 billion a year.”
According to Weaver’s article, the “56-year-old doctor, Jorge J. Dieppa, was wanted on charges of taking bribes to provide hundreds of patient referrals to home health care agencies that then submitted about $19 million in phony claims to Medicare. The program paid almost $12 million to this alleged ring of scammers: six nurses, two patient recruiters and a Medicare beneficiary who received kickbacks.”
In his breaking news story, published in the Miami Herald, on Saturday, July 10, the day following the multi-state crackdown on Medicare fraud, the largest such assault on this particular crime in the program’s 45-year history, Weaver wrote the following:
“Federal authorities early Friday charged 94 people with plotting to fleece $251 million from Medicare by filing phony claims with the taxpayer-funded healthcare program. Agents arrested 36 people. The indictments were part of an orchestrated crackdown in five major U.S. cities that coincided with the nation’s first healthcare fraud summit in Miami. The arrests, made by more than 350 agents for the Health and Human Services’ inspector general’s office and the FBI, marked the biggest takedown of Medicare fraud offenders since the federal program was started in 1965. About 25 suspects, including longtime general practitioner Dr. Jorge J. Dieppa, were charged in Miami-Dade County for allegedly submitting about $103 million in fraudulent bills for home healthcare, HIV therapy and medical equipment services, according to federal indictments.
Federal agents attempted to arrest Dieppa at his home in Southwest Miami-Dade, but the doctor was not there. He is believed to be out of town on a cruise. Dieppa, 56, whose practice is in Miami’s Flagami neighborhood, is accused of receiving kickbacks for making hundreds of patient referrals to home healthcare agencies for costly diabetic services that were unnecessary. Some 70 others were charged in Brooklyn, Baton Rouge, Detroit and Houston on a variety of charges, including bogus billing for physical and occupational therapy. The Detroit case involved three Miami healthcare operators accused of setting up clinics purportedly to treat HIV patients who either didn’t receive the therapy or didn’t need it.”
Who are these alleged criminals, since according to our jurisprudence philosophy, suspects remain cloaked with the presumption of innocence until proved guilty in a court of law?
Without divulging their names, other than the doctor who allegedly led this Miami-based ring of alleged Medicare scammers, we know that these suspects had at least three things in common with each other. They were all educated. They were all employed or headed a medical practice. Their education and their employment apparently did not deter them from allegedly committing these crimes. These suspects also hold at least three traits in common with all criminals. They, if guilty, were driven to get over on people, to get away, and now that they’ve been charged, they will pull out all stops to get out of the consequences as quickly as they can.
So what causes crime?
Jesus explained the answer during one of his many encounters with the scribes and Pharisees, particularly those from Jerusalem. Early during the third year of the Messiah’s ministry, representatives from these two groups wanted to know why the disciples did not engage in the series of ceremonial washings that the Pharisees taught prevented personal defilement. Jesus told His disciples: ” . . . whatever enters the mouth does into the stomach and is eliminated. (New King James version). But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness; blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Matt. 15:18-20).
Focus on the two specific crimes that Jesus mentioned-murders and thefts-and let’s track what the Bible says causes sin!
In Romans 7:18-20, we find the following explanation: “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” In Romans 8:5-8, we discover further clarification: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds (have a mindset) on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death [the wages of sin], but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
In the face of that evidence from the Bible, how can we account for numerous studies that appear to indicate that environmental factors and even heredity seem to cause criminal behavior? The flaw in their conclusions develop from their founding assumption. That assumption perceives criminals largely as victims of uncontrollable, social, environmental and even family makeup conditions.
Opinion writers, such as Wayne Leon Learmond conclude the following, for example:
“There are a whole number of reasons as to why people become criminals. Some of these reasons may make no sense at all to the common man or woman on the street. For instance, somebody may become a criminal even if they have been brought up within the most loving and caring family environment. Why should this be the case? One has to believe that greed and power come into play here. Some children, even if they have been surrounded by a loving and caring family, still go wrong. They get in with the wrong crowd, mingle in things they shouldn’t, such as drugs, and drink – which can lead onto other things to fuel their needs.” (Emphasis Mine Throughout
Many practitioners such as Walter V. Murray, executive director of the Atlanta Georgia-based You Got Next Foundation, a re-entry and anti-recidivism program, often contend the following: ” While society deserves some of the blame for creating conditions that foster criminal behavior, it offers some opportunities for individuals desiring to escape repeated criminal behavior.. The challenge of society is to educate ex-offenders to recognize and maximize available opportunities.”
Many researchers, such as Larry J. Siegel, professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell focus on probability studies. For example, in one of his studies, Siegel concluded that 37 percent of children who grew up in homes with criminal parents became criminals themselves. Does this mean, then, that 63 percent of children in this national study, who grew up in criminal homes did not become criminals?. On the other side of the ledger, Siegel postulates that less than 10 percent of children who grow up in loving, two-parent, non-criminal families later turn to crime. If family conditions cause crime, then it seems to be that the latter statistic would be zero percent.
On the other side of the ‘causative” ledger, noted pyschologist, Dr. Stanton Samenow labels “cognitive distortions” as the main causative factor in criminal behavior.
From 1970 through 1978, Dr. Samenow worked as a clinical research psychologist for the Program for the Investigation of Criminal Behavior at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.. With Dr. Samuel Yochelson, the findings of their clinical research-treatment study of offenders were published in the three-volume set entitled The Criminal Personality. Since 1978, Dr. Samenow has been in private practice as a clinical psychologist in Alexandria, Virginia.
Many states have adopted treatment programs based on Dr. Samenow’s research, largely in state correctional facilities. In his videos, it becomes apparent that he likes to let his patient talk while he mentally logs any cognitive distortions. He then educates the patient on those cognitive distortions that were heavily used. In theory, a patient will use less and less cognitive distortions, eventually reaching a point where covert sensitization can be employed to abruptly halt criminal thinking patterns.
In my view, “cause” must include a common denominator, despite variables and other contributing factors such as environmental conditions and even family background and structure.. According to God the Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible, the sinful nature functions as the common denominator for all sin. Crimes, according to Jesus, the Christ, describe specific sins.
Thus, as I conclude, based upon biblical principles, if the sinful nature causes sin, including crimes, then only a transformation or elimination of that nature will position a person to change, to make the difficult trek from crime to contribution.
This does not mean, however, that individuals controlled by the sinful nature cannot avoid crime. The sinful nature controls the majority of the world’s people, but most of them do not do crimes that violate specific legal statutes and could lead to arrest, trial, conviction and incarceration.
This analysis brings us, then, to the obvious question: how should and can God’s people minister to criminals?
The Bible mandates such ministry. Turn to Isa. 42:6-8 “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness. I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you. And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison. I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another.” (NASB)
In part two of this series, I will specify spiritual principles that God provides to direct and govern His people as we minister to criminals whom He is calling out of that lifestyle.