Crime and Social Control Essay

Submitted By sociologyta
Words: 1368
Pages: 6

In my introduction to Sociology class last semester, we discussed the major differences between “Crime in the Streets” versus “Crime in the Suites.” The underlying factor separating these crimes could be tied into conflict theory in general, and how those in power, the ‘ruling class’, dictate what is considered crime, and what is not. However, the distinction does not end there. The power elite not only dictate what is crime, but also who is punished for the same crimes. Minorities, like African-Americans, and Hispanics are grossly over-represented in police stops, arrest rates, incarceration rates, and recidivism rates. This is one of the single most prevalent cases of institutional discrimination we have in the United States. Racial profiling, and selective enforcement are huge factors in deciding who is in prison, and for how long. Of the two classes of crimes, IE Street Crime and Suite Crime, those both break down into two distinct classes of crimes as well. For street crime, there are violent crimes, and crimes against property. Violent crime demographics are highly skewed towards minorities, since they are more likely to live in areas that have poor living conditions, substandard education, and less jobs that pay a living wage. All of these factors, and more, contribute to a class warfare that has stretched on since the dawn of civilisation, and merely represented here as a socioeconomic class inequality. The haves versus the have nots. The Bourgeoisie versus the proletariat. Capitalists versus workers. The fact of the matter is, if you have money, and you have an education, and you live in an upper-middle class neighborhood and work in an office, the chances of you committing a violent crime are almost negligible. Someone who fits that criteria does not worry about where their food is coming from, or whether they can afford to fix their car, or if it is safe to walk the dog at night. The opposite is true of people who occupy lower-class neighborhoods. These places are usually unsafe, have a lot of gangs, no after-school programs, no supervision at home, (since any parent in the household is out working two jobs to support their family). These are certainly factors that do lead to violent crimes. On the other hand, Suite Crimes consist of any number of things that occur in, around, or with the help of the workplace. It ranges from stealing office supplies, all the way to companies that do not recall their products because they’ve calculated the cost of estimated settlements from wrongful death suits, and decided they would lose less money than issuing a recall. Insider trading, kick backs, tax evasion, unsafe work environments, workman’s comp litigation against employees, etc, cost a lot more federal funds than violent crimes do, but the majority of these corporations and executives that are arrested and convicted are slapped with fines, and occasionally small jail time. Meanwhile the Hague in Germany wants George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and many others to appear in court for war crimes perpetuated during the Bush Administration, and the United States allows Monsanto, (a company responsible for deaths all around the world from pesticide production and illegal spraying), into the country with open arms. Of all incarcerated individuals in the world, the United States has more than a fourth, 26 percent. There appears to be a pattern in the U.S. of over represented populations. The system of incarcerating individuals in the country is so convoluted and confusing that in order to avoid being incarcerated, one must pay upwards of $400 an hour to highly educated and well placed lawyers, which in and of itself is a perfect example that the justice system is skewed in the favor of those with money. Court appointed attorneys certainly have a law degree, but if they were good enough to really represent your case successfully they wouldn’t be court appointed. There are many things we as a society can begin to