Selma, is a county in the southwestern part of Alabama. It has experienced limited growth over the last thirty years with a population of 20,000 people which has declined according to projections by the Center for Business and Economic Research Studies. Selma’s population comprises of African Americans who make up 75% of the population, and in the western part the majority are Caucasian’s. Unemployment has been above the state average with the incomes of workers less than the state average.
The low wages have led to a decline in the number of workers and the population (City of Alabama 2009, p. 7-1). The housing conditions in Selma are in the form of well preserved historic homes in the core neighborhoods which are the central part of the housing market in Selma. There are other historically significant houses in the city’s core that range from the well maintained to substandard housing. Some of the houses in this neighborhood are also vacant posing a threat to the residents in the form of criminal hideouts (City of Alabama 2009, p. 7-5).
There are several housing projects which have been built and maintained by the Housing Authority but while they serve many, housing occupancy still remains an issue with the cost and availability of cheap houses being the main factor (City of Alabama, 2009, p. 7-5). Selma is primarily served by a privately owned regional hospital with other medical facilities being a dialysis clinic, dental offices, nursing homes and home health services. The hospital is not enough to serve the population of Selma and the various clinics offer substandard services.
This means that members of the community have to visit neighboring states such as Dallas to receive quality healthcare (City of Alabama, 2009,p. 7-6). The education sector of Selma has been fairly successful with regards to academic performance. School enrolment continues to be steady but faces competition from the neighboring states. The school facilities are still sound but there are some concerns with the age and condition of the high schools which raises the question of whether there is need for renovations.
Selma also has a university (Selma University) and college to meet the higher educational needs of its community. They are designed to meet a limited number of students which locks out others from achieving higher education (City of Alabama, 2009, p. 7-7). Selma has a single police unit that is meant to serve the security needs of the community. The crime levels in Selma are high with auto thefts and house burglaries ranking high in the list. The lack of jobs and the low incomes has forced some to revert to crime to be able to sustain themselves and their families.
In his works released in 1897, Durkheim saw the primary groups and social organizations of a society as explanatory factors of human misbehavior. His view was that crime was a normal phenomenon in the society because group reactions to deviant actions assisted human groups in defining their moral boundaries (Hagan 2008, p. 147). In this case Selma’s black community is more prone to crime than the white community because of the perception that crime is committed by black people.
Robert Merton was interested in finding out what factors there are in a society and its cultural institutions that make it the source of deviant behavior. For the case of Selma such factors would be low incomes, lack of jobs. He wanted to look at deviance in addition to conformity in the society. Merton’s theory stated that antisocial behavior or crime is a product of the values of a society which encourages high material aspirations as a sign of success without providing the means to achieve this success (Hagan 2008, p. 48) There needs to be a common view that all member of the community are equal and should be accorded equal educational, housing and medical services. To enhance its self esteem Selma County should look into the improvement of recreational facilities near the neighborhoods prone to crime and also develop and improve its school facilities to cater for the demands in the job market. Construction of more industries will ensure there are enough jobs.
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