Violence in Society

Green principles oppose violence in all its forms: assaults against individuals, families, nations, wildlife and the environment. We also recognize that threats, intimidation and fear can be as destructive as physical violence. On the personal as well as the national level, means can never be separated from ends.

American society has an historical legacy of violence that results in a widespread acceptance of violent methods. This is reflected in high violent crime rates, the highest handgun murder rate in the world, a propensity for military solutions, and a patriarchal desire to dominate through threats and outright force.
Domestic violence is becoming more recognized and is being addressed, but it continues to linger as a major problem in our society. As with most acts of violence, the causes are known and the solutions are attainable.
Despite arguments about the second amendment, it is obvious that the easy availability of guns contributes to violent crime. The more guns there are in society, the more they will be used. Hunters, gun enthusiasts and those needing personal protection can be accommodated with minimal inconvenience while eliminating assault rifles and other such weapons whose primary purpose is to kill people.
Governments have a special responsibility to set good examples through their policies and actions. We, therefore, oppose the death penalty because executions are motivated more by vengeance than by justice. It has also been proven that executions are carried out in disproportionate numbers among minorities and the poor. More evidence is mounting that shows innocent people are being sentenced to death due to inadequate defense, false testimony from other criminals seeking reduction of their sentence, and over-zealous prosecution. Executing criminals has not proven to be an effective deterrent to crime, and it does not address the underlying causes of crime: lack of economic opportunity and education, drug use, child abuse, etc. In California, 125 organizations and religious groups have called for a moratorium on executions, as well as the U.N. High Commission on Human Rights. We recognize the need to protect society from violent criminals, but support a basic right to life and humane treatment. The lengthy appeals process is itself inhumane as well as costly. We also have a responsibility as a society to comply with international treaties regarding treatment of prisoners, both civilian and military. Yet we have a prison system that brutalizes prisoners, which hardens rather than rehabilitates them. And we have a system driven more by private profit than by penitence.
The role of violence in the media needs to be addressed because scientific studies have shown that an environment of unchallenged violence is conducive to the practice of violence. We need to reduce the tools and glorification of violence, keeping in mind content related to the freedom of speech and artistic expression protected by the First Amendment.
Violent individuals need to be encouraged, counseled, and taught how to best cope with their angry feelings in a therapeutic environment. Mental health, medical and health care services need to be provided as needed. Attacks on the vulnerable, such as the elderly, need to be addressed through victim restitution. Addressing gang violence requires community-based programs and public education.
Violence due to militarism and nationalistic actions is covered in other Platform Planks such as Disarmament and Foreign Policy.
The Green Party proposes these actions to counter patterns of violence:
Expand mass media campaigns to educate the public on the presence and long-term damage of domestic violence. Provide early screening and prevention training for those families at high risk, and provide more intervention and treatment for both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.
Register all legal firearms, especially handguns and other concealable weapons. Strengthen the ban on sales of automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
Teach nonviolence and peaceful conflict resolution at all school levels. Abolish corporal punishment in schools since to use it is to teach violence. Provide training in nonviolent parenting skills.
Provide adequate funding to remedy the conditions that spawn violent crime. Such funding is economically more effective than the cost of trials and prisons. [see Criminal Justice plank]
Develop police training and procedures that stress the handling of situations through mediation and negotiation, while minimizing the necessity for armed confrontations.
Support incarceration rather than executions, with the provision that dangerous criminals will not be released as long as they pose a threat to society or other individuals. We support the growing call for a moratorium on executions.
Alter the disposition to violent behavior by boycotting the sale of items that promote violence such as media that display content with gratuitous violence, and by taxing the instruments of violence such as weapons and products generally adjudged to evoke violence that feature frequent beatings, keeping in mind content related to the freedom of speech and artistic expression protected by the First Amendment. Impose a high enough tax (at least 50% of cost or profit) to deter violence. The generated funds should be used to aid the victims of violence and to help fund counseling for the perpetrators of violence.
Advocate counseling/education programs/anger management/medical care/healthcare as appropriate in a therapeutic environment for victims of violence and for the perpetrators of violent acts according to their separate issues-- to include special communities like children, LGBTs, adolescents, men, women, seniors, ethnic minorities, the disabled, veterans, drug abusers/users, single parents, parents with jobs, the suicidal, and the homeless.
Promote less media glorification/sensationalism of violence, for example, through multiple non-Governmental sensitive rating systems, parental controls, and education.
Address gang violence through community-based programs and public education