The Overlap of Crime, Punishment, and Poverty

The Interconnection Of Social Problems Assignment Instructions

Review the article, Race, poverty and punishment: The impact of criminal sanctions on racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequality , as you to prepare for this paper. As Wheelock and Uggen (2006) point out, “the association between crime, punishment, and poverty has long been the subject of sociological and criminological investigation” (p. 1). This assignment is intended illustrate the interconnection of social problems.

Write a paper discussing the overlap of crime, punishment, and poverty. In your paper, please explain the following five core arguments made by the authors:

  1. Criminal sanctions and victimization work to form a system of disadvantage that perpetuates stratification and poverty.
  2. Punishment impacts individuals convicted of felonies, as well as their families, peer groups, neighborhoods, and racial group.
  3. After controlling for population differences, African Americans are incarcerated approximately seven times as often as Whites.
  4. Variation in criminal punishment is linked to economic deprivation.
  5. As the number of felons and former felons rises, collateral sanctions play an ever-larger role in racial and ethnic stratification, operating as an interconnected system of disadvantage.

The Overlap of Crime, Punishment, and Poverty – Sample Paper

Over the years, various academic professionals and pundits have come to the unanimous conclusion there is a succinct correlation between crime, punishment, and poverty. Even more surprising is the fact that a large majority of those in this particular section of the population are minorities. Marginalization in the United States has now become endemic with communities still living in utter hopelessness and desperation. According to Wheelock and Uggen (2006), decades of government policy lacking the interests of these individuals have since been the primary cause of this status quo being upheld.  Patriots fought in the American Civil War (1861-65) with the intention of forging a better society, but minorities are yet to fully realize this dream. African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and the Latino community have systematically suffered as a result of these intermittent grapes of wrath. Criminal sanctions and victimizations have now been seemingly institutionalized, doing these communities more harm than good. African Americans, in particular, are stereotyped as the textbook example of a lawbreaker and it, therefore, comes as no surprise that they form a majority of those behind bars.

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One of the hallmarks of the aforementioned state of affairs is the effect that it has on the individuals and those around them. Firstly, lengthy sentences have seen young individuals incarcerated for lengthy periods of time. In other instances, reports have emerged of police officers perverting the course of justice and even planting evidence to ensure that the person in their custody ends up in prison. Moreover, the possession of Schedule 1 drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin was enough to send those found in possession of these controlled substances to federal penitentiaries where they would serve a mandatory minimum sentence.  As a result, they would miss out on their so-called “sunshine years”, during which they would have been most productive and with the ability to see their life aspirations come to fruition (Hartman, 2006, p. 78). Their families also suffer since a large majority of these individuals are parents with young children. The result is children from minority racial groups growing up in a household lacking either parent and likely to be sucked into the same whirlwind of crime and incarceration.

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One of the most intriguing aspects of the United States is the fact that it leads among countries with the highest number of an adult population behind bars. Even more shocking is the fact that there exists a noticeable disparity in race when evaluating the numbers of those incarcerated. Others have argued that the main reason why African Americans are found in droves in federal penitentiaries is due to racial profiling that exists in the United States, although this axiom has been disputed on numerous occasions. Nonetheless, African Americans are imprisoned seven times as often as their White counterparts. Law enforcement agents have been largely blamed for this eventuality since African Americans are often presumed guilty until proven otherwise. A White individual breaking the law, therefore, has a higher chance of slipping under the police radar especially since crime has traditionally been associated with African Americans (Hinton, 2016). Conversely, an African American is more likely to be imprisoned for missing a court date or failing to pay a parking ticket on time simply because law enforcement officers are constantly targeting them during routine traffic stops.

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Poverty has often been referred to as the greatest source of marginalization. This is because those under these appalling conditions simply have no chance with regard to bettering their lives. Minorities are located at the fringes of society, mostly in housing projects and tenements where they continue to be trapped in a cycle of poverty. Unemployment, therefore, becomes rife with government aid failing to reach the largest segment of the population. Economically deprived persons fall victim to the existential problems plaguing the society and are soon in the abyss of illegal activities. Drug-dealing, home invasions, and carjacking incidents now become the order of the day, heightening their risk of a violent death or incarceration (Lin & Harris, 2010). Jurists have been known to recommend the maximum punishment for these individuals who, in most cases, were victims of circumstances due to economic deprivation.

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One of the most striking features of the American justice system is the collateral sanctions that are applied to persons with criminal records which further perpetuates this cycle of disadvantage. There is a no doubt that these sanctions have played an active role in the ethnic stratification that is all too common in the United States. As a result, the African American community accounts for the highest recidivism rates in comparison to other racial groups in the United States. The parole, house arrest, and probation system are usually to blame for this state of affairs especially since such persons live in highly policed neighborhoods. Any slight misconduct or violation of their parole could send them back to the penitentiary for an indefinite period of time (Pager, 2009, p.12). They, therefore, live life with the threat of incarceration always looming over them.

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