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The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison

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Courtney Jerke

on 16 October 2014

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Transcript of The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison

Designed to Fail
Governmental leaders, specifically politicians, do not take responsibility for rising crime rates. Instead, they generally play to voter's fears by advocating "law & order" which is evidenced in a variety of "tough on crime" policies that have been implemented such as:
Known Sources of Crime
Three Excuses That Will Not Wash, Or How We Could Reduce Crime If We Wanted To
The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison

Crime Control in America: Nothing Succeeds like Failure
"Is it crime and punishment that go hand and hand?
Or does punishment feed the crime that plagues the land?"

- Robert Johnson
What Works to Reduce Crime
Jeffrey Reiman & Paul Leighton
Poverty and Inequality
"Let's start investing in things that really reduce crime: good schools, jobs, and a future for young parents and their children."
The gap between the rich and poor has worsened. In 2010, 46.2 million people were defined as being in poverty.

This is likely the effect of high levels of unemployment coupled with cuts in welfare and other social services and/or programs.
Prisons are severely overcrowded and do not offer meaningful rehabilitation or tools for reintegrating into society. It often stigmatizes inmates when they are released, which often results in fewer employment opportunities. Unfortunately, prison can also lower its deterrent value and increase recidivism rates.
Guns are more plentiful and readily available in the United States than in other countries and contribute to the significantly high homicide rate.

In 2009, approximately 31,228 deaths resulted from firearms.
Criminalization of Drugs
The criminalization of drugs keeps the price of drugs high, causes the quality and supply to fluctuate, and the drug trade in the hands of gangs and organized crime.
Legalization of Drugs
With the legalization and/or decriminalization of drugs, the government could tax their production and sale, while also creating and/or expanding treatment and public health initiatives.
"The main causes of crime are social and economic. The solutions are so obvious. It's almost as if America wished for a high crime rate. If this is so, then the system's failure is only in the eye of the victim: for those in control, it is a roaring success!"
The United States has an enormous drug abuse and addiction problem. However, drug use has remained widespread despite law enforcement efforts.

The drug problem has lead to police corruption, failure of international drug wars and the dramatic increase in prison populations.

more police
harsher sentences
mandatory minimums
"three-strikes" laws
capital punishment
2012 Correctional Populations in the United States
Total Correctional Population:

Community Supervision Total:
Parole: 851,200
Probation: 3,942,800

Incarcerated Total:
Jail: 744,500
Prison: 1,483,900
Understanding the
Decline in Crime Rates
Criminal Justice Response
Negative Side Effects
Non Criminal Justice Factors
Turf Wars
Reduction in the popularity of crack cocaine
Reduction of lead in the environment
"These factors together have contributed to reducing the extremely high crime rates to rates that are lower, but high nonetheless."
We're Too Soft
There is widespread belief that we are not tough enough. However, policies have continued to get harsher.
"Law & Order"
"War on Crime"
"War on Drugs"
"Get tough on Crime"
"The get tough approach to crime as a social experiment has been tested and shown to fail."
A Cost of Modern Life
Some argue that crime is an inescapable companion of any complex, industrialized society.

However, other complex, populous nations have crime rates that are lower than those in the United States.

Variations in crime rates between modern cities and nations are proof that the extent of crime is not a simple consequence of urbanization.
Blame It On The Kids
Others attribute crime to young people, particularly men between the ages of 14 & 25.

The problem with attributing crime to youth...is that crime rates have grown faster than either the absolute number of young people or their percentage of the population.
"We can no more expect to reduce crime than we can hope to eradicate adolescence."
"Guns don't kill people, people kill people."
"The drug war has cost billions, incarcerated millions, and is responsible for little change in drug usage."
Categorization of the Relationship
Between Drugs and Crime
Pharmacological / Psychological Consequences
Economical / Compulsive Crimes
Systemic Crime
"There is now less reason than ever to believe that current policies are an efficient and effective response to the problem of illicit drugs."
Four Priority Areas
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect
Enhancing Children's Intellectual and Social Development
Providing Support and Guidance to Vulnerable Adolescents
Working Extensively with Juvenile Offenders
"Early interventions decrease criminal activity and saves taxpayers money."
Drug and alcohol treatment programs reduce substance abuse, crime, and homelessness, as well as lower arrest rates.
Effective Crime Prevention Programs
Vocational training for older male ex-offenders; rehabilitation programs with risk-focused treatments for convicted offenders; and therapeutic community treatment for drug-using offenders in prison.
"[These programs are the most] effective way to reduce violent crime."
What should be the functional purpose of prisons?
Star Parker: Dependency Sets up Americans for Failure
Failing To Reduce Crime:
Erikson, Durkheim, and Foucault
Pyrrhic Defeat Theory
The failure of the criminal justice system yields such benefits to those in positions of power that it amounts to a victory.
Kai T. Erikson
Societies benefit from the existence of crime and thus there is reason to believe that social institutions work to maintain rather to eliminate crime.
Societies have institutions whose function is to recruit and maintain a reliable supply of deviants.
Emile Durkheim
Suggested that crime may actually perform a needed service to society by drawing people together in a common posture of anger and indignation.
"Deviant behavior is an ingredient in the glue that holds a community together."
Reiman and Leighton suggest that poverty is one of the principle sources of crime. The welfare system was created to address this problem in the U.S.

Do you think welfare is an effective deterrent for crime?
Michel Foucault
What are your thoughts on the legalization / decriminalization of drugs? Do you think it would help alleviate violent crime?
The failure of the criminal justice system - prisons in particular - serves as a function for society.
Prison has succeeded in creating delinquents.
Criminality is identified almost exclusively with a certain social class...the bottom rank of the social order. An advantage of this type of system, is that it poses no threat to the general order, while at the same time, weakens the poorer classes.
Delinquency, "with the generalized policing that it authorizes, constitutes a means of perpetual surveillance of the population."
If you support legalization / decriminalization, of which drugs in particular (i.e. marijuana, heroin, cocaine)?
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