Poverty is the root cause of crime, some sociologists and liberal politicians insist. But they frequently neglect to point out almost all criminals have a choice in the matter.
Ohio County Circuit Judge James Mazzone did not hesitate to make that point this week in sentencing a man who pleaded guilty to charges related to a faked robbery this spring.
The culprit and his girlfriend conspired to stage a robbery at her workplace. The man was apprehended quickly, however.
On Monday he pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and fleeing police. Mazzone sentenced him to two to 10 years in prison.
He also offered the prisoner some advice, after the 26-year-old man claimed the robbery was staged because he needed money.
"Get a job," Mazzone recommended. "There are jobs out there if you need money that bad, rather than stealing."
Indeed there are. The classified advertising pages of this newspaper include information about dozens of job openings every week. Scores of stores and restaurants in this area post "help wanted" signs on a regular basis.
Sometimes the work is hard. Often the pay is not good, at least to start.
But even entry-level jobs mean a paycheck and the opportunity for advancement. So Mazzone is right: Poverty simply isn't an acceptable excuse for crime, as long as jobs are available.