I've read most of this thread at one sitting, though I must admit I did lightly scim a few lengthy posts.
It isn't necessarily worse today than 40-50 years ago. When I was in school, I knew two drug dealers by their first names...local neighborhood hoods. When I was barely 17, I witnessed a gang style murder, half a block from my home. My childhood neighborhood is a nonstop wall of gang graffitti.
But most days I went to school without the fear of some insane person coming onto campus, tying up innocents and murdering them. That this recent school massacre happened in a 'safe' rural Amish setting tells me things have become worse, in many ways. It doesn't seem to make any difference whether or not there is a death penalty, or prison consequences. Guns are only one weapon, but I can't help but believe they are just far too easy to get your hands on, in spite of all the regulations in place nationwide. I'd personally enjoy a total ban, but know that will never happen.
For what it is worth, my thoughts are similar, Lee...there is no rehabilitating some of these criminals, and the courts have become far too lenient, even as the prisons and jails are becoming so overcrowded the state of California is now going to begin farming out their prisoners to other states.
Working with families, parents and children from preschool upwards to change behavioral violent patterns is the only long term solution. Yet it seems we spend most of our efforts as a nation pumping time and money into incarceration or more layers of laws. The root causes and solutions of violence are often ignored, although on a smaller scale, I have witnessed a handful of parents who said, enough! and encorporated anger management training sessions into their school programs. It has to start at an early age, and if not done in the home, then it must be done within the schools. A lot of the violence starts early, with the too-often ignored verbal bullying, then escalates into the physical. Until we address the first levels of violence more effectively, we are doomed to building more prisons, and watching more horror stories unfold in the media.