Crime in America - The Racial and Class Implications Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Race, Class & Crime

The confluence of race, class and crime is a hot topic nowadays. This is especially true when discussing events or topics of various types. Very or fairly specific examples of this would include the recent shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO and the subsequent non-indictment of the officer who shot him despite the fact that Brown was not armed and the ongoing discussion about how paying a "wage" should be a moral imperative of all employers and how people in poverty are much more apt to commit crimes. Throw in the fact that people that exist in racial minorities are much more likely to be in poverty, it seems to make sense to some that minorities are also more commonly incarcerated and committing crimes in general. However, this is not entirely true as white people commit plenty of crimes themselves. However, blacks and Hispanics are much more self-destructive when it comes to committing of their crimes and there is little denying that. This report shall define the problem or problems at hand and will explain so using several different sections including a statement of the problem, the cause or causes of the problem, the best responses to the problem and how research design that was used to come to those conclusions.

Statement of the Problem

It is a fair and accurate statement to suggest that crime knows no bounds when it comes to class and race. Indeed, people of all races and classes commit crimes of some sort ranging from the minor to the capital offenses. Even rich and famous people like Phil Spector, Glenn Pistorius and OJ Simpson have been convicted in criminal and/or civil court for murder and all three of them are of worldwide notoriety and two of those three are white. Further, to suggest that blacks, Hispanics or other racial minorities are somehow more preprogrammed to commit crimes and engage in debauchery is unfair and perhaps racist in some instances. However, enforcement against crimes in high-minority areas is off the charts as compared to enforcement in mostly white areas and the incarceration rates of minorities (blacks in particular) is also sky-high compared to that of whites. Further, whites and blacks are often sentenced differently for the same or at least similar crimes. For example, crack and cocaine share the same root material and substance but the sentencing and incarceration rates for those two drug forms are quite different. This is not insignificant because white people are more prone to use cocaine (between the two, anyway) and blacks are more likely to be involved with crack, statistically speaking. Given that crack incarceration rates and sentencing frames are almost always more elevate, this obviously raises the eyebrows of racial advocates.

The other side of the problem in play here is that class is a major drive of whether crimes are committed and, if so, what crimes are in question. While there are always outliers, people that are poor, destitute, unemployed and desperate are much more likely to engage in theft, robbery and other property crimes than those that are more well off. An offshoot, although different part, of the issue is that the poor are also much more likely to be abusing certain drugs such as alcohol, crack, heroin and methamphetamine. This is not to say that richer people do not abuse drugs as well as many well-off people smoke marijuana or use cocaine. Further, heroin takes on many forms including normally legal prescription pills and those are abused by people of all colors and classes either knowingly or accidentally after taking the drug for a legitimate purpose like a back injury or something.

To state the problem concisely, class and race are obviously linked to crime in undeniable ways but it would be simplistic and perhaps even bigoted/classist to fixate too much on this phenomenon. Any solutions to this problem cannot simply ignore race and class as an issue because they are most certainly factors. However, there are ancillary factors and causes that must also be address. It is not unlike the proposed solutions to the current immigration crisis in the United States. While locking down the borders are part of any broad-based immigration solution, it cannot be the only approach used as this would not address the 12 million or so illegal immigrants already here and deporting those people is not the answer. Similarly, white people have their own work to put in as far as crime, class and race goes but so do the affected minority groups. The root causes and factors that have led to the current state of affairs are complex, have been going on for centuries and will not be addressed overnight. However, everyone has their cross to bear as it relates to finding a complete and effective solution. Setting the fault and responsibility at the feet only of those that are poor and downtrodden would be less than fair or wise but doing the same to the employers and politicians of America would also be improper and incomplete.

The location of the problem at hand is the United States. However, there are other countries that are playing a small or large part in the dynamics as well such as Mexico, much of Central and South America and so forth. The offenders involved are all people that commit crimes with a stronger (but not exclusive) focus on those that are in racial minorities and/or the lower ends of the economic ladder in terms of income and other economic quintiles. The victims of this problem may seem to be an entirely different group than the offenders but this is actually not the case. Many victims are, either prior or shall be in the future, offenders themselves. Some people are only offenders and some are only victims. However, there is a ridiculous amount of overlap and indeed being a victim can quite easily lead to a person becoming an offender and making someone else a victim. These victims can a person's own family members or even their friends. However, it would quite often tend to be strangers and people around the community more often than it would be someone close to the offender. When it comes to some kind of offenders such as drug dealers or drug addicts, there are very few people that are "out of bounds." As it relates to both class and race, many assert that anyone can "make it" in this country and that it just comes down to trying hard enough. Others say that this is easier said than done (assuming it is possible at all) due to the protracted mishandling and mistreatment of the working class and the poor in the United States and that revolutionary change is necessary to fix the problem. The answer is actually somewhere in the middle but it will take a meeting of the minds of all levels and creeds to realize this as the truth that it is.

Causes of the Problem

When it comes to the causes of the problems mentioned above, the answer is quite complex. When it comes to black people, the history of the United States is quite stained. Of course, many of the blacks present in the United States right now are here because of the mass enslavement and importation of black people against their will during the time of the British Colonies. Of course, the act of slavery did not end with the creation of the United States. Indeed, that did not happen until nearly a century later in the 1860's. However, there were some quite nasty trends and events that occurred both before and after the "freeing" of the slaves in the 1860's. For sure, the United States has been typified by three major eras when it comes to race. Those three periods are the time of slavery from 1776 to 1865, the Jim Crow area from the 1860's to the 1950's and the post-Civil Rights Era in light of the civil rights laws passed in the 1960's. Even with all of the progress that the United States has made, some major disparities exist. First, despite the fact that segregation is illegal in schools and neighborhoods, many blacks and whites still segregate. The poorer and more deficient schools tend to be high-minority while the best schools tend to be mostly white. Hispanics face a similar set of circumstances, albeit for different reasons. The countries of Central and South America tend to be impoverished, disease-ridden and corrupt. Many Latinos in the United States are not here legally or they have one or more immediately family members that are in that situation. They quite often do not speak English (or speak it well) and are the subject of many taunts and insults from nativists and xenophobes.

The correlations and corollaries to class are not hard to see. While there are plenty of people that commit crimes due in whole or in part to class that are not Hispanic or black, the amount…

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