The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison Essay

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Jeffrey Reiman, author of The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, first published his book in 1979; it is now in its sixth edition, and he has continued to revise it as he keeps up on criminal justice statistics and other trends in the system. Reiman originally wrote his book after teaching for seven years at the School of Justice (formerly the Center for the Administration of Justice), which is a multidisciplinary, criminal justice education program at American University in Washington, D.C. He drew heavily from what he had learned from his colleagues at that university. Reiman is the William Fraser McDowell Professor of Philosophy at American University, where he has taught since 1970. He has written numerous books on political …show more content…
The poor are more likely to be arrested for a particular crime, while wealthier people are merely warned. Reiman uses evidence of the differential treatment of blacks for several reasons: 1) blacks are disproportionately poor; 2) the factors that are most likely to keep an offender out of prison do not apply to poor blacks; 3) blacks and whites in prison come from the same general socio-economic status; 4) race adds to the effects of economic condition; and 5) the economic powers in America could end or reduce racist bias in the criminal justice system if they wanted to do so. Reiman believes they see it as to their economic advantage not to curb crime. He finds that police, prosecutors, and judges all make certain that the poor are more likely to go to prison than the well-to-do. This should not be the case, given that white-collar crime is costly, widespread, and rarely punished. Even when arrested and convicted, white-collar criminals do not do the same amount of time as the poor, and do not go to the same prisons.

In his chapter, "To the Vanquished Belong the Spoils," Reiman considers why the criminal justice system is failing and finds that it is not an accident, but rather an intentional action by the rich and powerful to keep the system operating as it is. He does not say this is a conspiracy and offers