Connections between Social Inequality, Crime and Punishment

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Beginning in the 1970’s, many harsh changes made to government policies on crime and punishment targeted and put many poor minority men into the prison system. The growth of the prison system grew drastically, concealing the extent of the economic inequality and planting the seeds for greater inequality in the upcoming years. Western and Pettit examine the connections between social inequality, crime and punishment.

Many factors including unemployment, one parent households, and lack of opportunity combine to produce some high levels of violence among young black men. By 2000, becoming incarcerated had become a common event for poor minority males. There is also the issue of drug use and drug enforcement. The importance of drug use and drug enforcement weighs heavily on the rate of incarceration among young black and white men alike. Western and Pettit found significant evidence proving the disparity between drug use and drug arrests.

Their research indicates in the 1970’s, black people were about twice as likely as white people to be arrested for a drug offense. As drug arrests increased in the 1980’s it had a large effect on African Americans and at the height of the drug war in 1989, arrest rates for blacks had escalated immensely. Throughout the 1990’s, drug arrest rates remained at these historically high levels. It was also stated that drug use is higher among white males than it is among black males, yet there is evidence of black males being targeted and put into prisons at a much more substantial rate that their white counterparts. Being targeted in this way leads to social inequality.

Many black males once released from prison from for example a minor drug charge, would find it difficult to find employment. They might face discrimination after disclosing their criminal history or face jail time if they lie about it. Many jobs might also require special licenses or certificates that aren’t available to ex-convicts. Considering this, a white male with a criminal history is still more likely to secure employment over the black male.

Most of those drug charges brought up against young black males were nonviolent, victimless crimes. When taken to court, nonviolent cases are decided by a judge with out a jury present. This gives the judge maximum power in how to sentence these young men, amd if the type of crime has garnered a lot of media attention, the judge might feel compelled to make am example of this person.

In the chapter, public perception of crime was also touched on. Violent crimes is the type of crime most covered and given extensive media coverage. At the height of the drug war, it was given a lot of news coverage but in reality many of the people jailed were nonviolent offenders, putting into perspective the inequality faced by many of these young black males.

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Connections between Social Inequality, Crime and Punishment. (2021, Apr 15). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/connections-between-social-inequality-crime-and-punishment/

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