August 5, 2013
Crime and Society
As a result, jail sentences are handed out and without the financial ability to pay for a lawyer these sentences can be rather harsh. Unfortunately, when talking about crime and the repercussions it can be all about whom you are and who you know. Research has shown over the years the link between social status, criminality, and punishments. These connections can be somewhat controversial as comparisons are made to other countries; however in America the research proves these links all too true. Sadly, discriminatory effects of crime and punishment are directly related to and meshed together by poverty and social status.
To begin, poverty rates in America are sky high. Many people tend to think poverty only affects the homeless people seen on the streets or the people on welfare. That is not the case. The economic depression has stretched its ugly tentacles to various parts and classes of society. Research has shown there is a direct correlation between poverty and crime. President Joseph Williams of Christian Association for Prison Aftercare (CAPA) documented, “Poor people make up the overwhelming majority of those behind bars as 53% of those in prison earned less than $10,000 per year before incarceration” (Williams, 2012). For example, someone who is middle class may be able to feed their family although the budget may be tight whereas a person who is considered lower class may not be able to provide for their family. The probability of the lower class person committing a crime is increased out of desperation. The middle class person has “more” to lose if they commit a crime. I blame these feelings of desperation on society. There need to be more hand ups than handouts. Welfare is a great start, but what about long term help. Programs that help people to gain job skills, education, and assistance with financial planning would be more beneficial than just putting someone on welfare and forgetting about them.
Social status also plays a part in this equation. There are numerous factors to be considered such as financial means for representation, and where someone is at on the social food chain. Social status means a lot when talking about crime and punishment. If a person has a high social status they may be deterred from committing a crime. On the other hand, having a higher social status can mean fewer consequences. For instance, two people of the same race, gender, and financial class commit a robbery and are arrested. One offender has high social connections and comes from a family that is very active in society and the other offender is just an average