Poverty and Crime

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 9 November 2016

Poverty and Crime

Poverty can be defined as the deprivation of basic needs or necessities. These are things that are required by human beings for them to survive for example shelter, clothing, food and water. Poverty causes pain and stress to those who suffer from it but according to the Christians, it is seen as a positive thing that makes them more faithful and lack of these properties is deemed virtuous. On the other hand, crime is seen as the violation of rules and regulations of the state. When this is done, the culprit is regarded as a criminal. Acts of crime are punishable by law if one is convicted guilty of committing a particular offense.

Poverty and crime are interrelated as poverty is an independent variable while crime is the dependant variable and manipulation of one has an effect on the other, that is if poverty is reduced the rate of crime would definitely go down. This research paper is geared towards brining to the light the relationship between poverty and crime. Do they have a correlation? There have been claims that poverty leads to crime and this cannot be denied as in America today, crime prevalence is registered in zones that are inhabited by the poor Americans. It is not a usual thing for a place to have high rate of crime without the cause for it.

Poverty is not only confined to the poor third world countries as even in America, United Kingdom and other developed nations there are people who live in penury. In the United States, the poor live in housings known as ghettos and the most affected are the African Americans. Many people refute the claim that poverty is the causal factor of crime. For example in Boston, in the 1830s there were very many cases of crime, which to many was attributed to poverty. This became a challenge to the inhabitants who in a bid to reduce the level of crimes formed charity organizations that were meant for helping these poor people.

Many people thought that the poor people are the ones who commit mistakes so these organizations that were formed were designed to reduce the number of African Americans in the war. (Sampson RJ. 1987) In the United States of America, it is reportedly said that the number of blacks in prisons is much higher than those that are in educational institutions. In Boston, it was assumed that because women were the ones who went for charity items, which were given for free by the Boston’s charity organizations.

Here, this was not the case as in Boston as the number of women who were imprisoned was 12. 25 percent and not forgetting that this figure comprised women of all nationalities. This research contradicted the much-theorized belief that poverty and crime are related. Some crimes that are associated with poverty do not have a correlation when they are closely scrutinized. These are crimes such as vandalism, arson and wanton destruction of properties. Why would a poor person destroy some properties that could he/she could use? Poor people are forced by poverty to turn to crime.

In most assault cases, the victims claim that they lost their properties so it can be confidently be said that the perpetrators are people who cannot afford those commodities and so they think that the only way they could access them is only through assaulting the rich and becoming robbers. According to sociologists, there is a very strong connection between, the crime rate and the families break ups in the United States’ towns and cities. Cities that are occupied by the blacks have reported increase in violent crime rate and this is attributed to the prevalence of the female-headed families. Pager D. 2001)

As per the 1980s research, the ratio of whites to blacks that were engaged in violent crimes was not in proportion. According to the 1983 statistics, more murder and assault cases in Chicago took place in areas that were inhabited by the African American and the Latino residents who were low-income earners. This attests to the fact that there is a relationship between crimes and poverty and this is undeniable, if this is not the case, then why is it that areas that are occupied by the poor register so many crimes?

The past researches that were done in the 1980s expressed a connection between single parent headed families with crime prevalence and especially in black households. In 1984, all the black families were under female parents and this trend is still growing as the numbers of families with two parents are constantly on the decline. Of all the 360,000 families that lived on five thousand dollars and below, females headed fifty seven percent of them. The ratio of families that were headed by single women between the blacks and the whites were 74 percent to 26 percent. In Chicago, females own most of the poor households and especially the ghettos.

So the increase in female households and most particularly those in the ghettos have a relationship between the high rate of dependency and poverty. (Pridemore W. A. and Kim S. W. 2007) A statistical analysis that was done in hundred and fifty cities in America attributes rise in female-headed families to poverty. This is because when men are not employed they move out of these cities and go to look for jobs leaving behind their wives and this causes family disruptions. In turn, this family break-up leads to the rise in crime rates and especially in blacks residential places.

Low income contributes to marriage separations as well as divorce cases. Children from families that are headed by a female parent are prone to indulge themselves in juvenile delinquency. When children are raised in poor households they do not even have the proper education that they deserve and this becomes a vicious circle whereby poverty is caused by lack of relevant skills and education. This makes it hard to secure oneself a good job that can help one to achieve their needs thereby becoming even poorer. Marital and family break ups weaken the social control mechanisms that are vital in reducing the crimes rate.

When these social control means are in force people look at each other as their brother or sister, they develop a ‘we feeling’ and they protect each other properties. They also help one another to resolve their disputes but when family bonds are weakened, this problem is transferred to the society that is made up of families. The result is that socialism is substituted by individualism or in other words, people become egoistic and everything they do is meant of them and only them. People devise short cuts of acquiring wealth and this means robbery, assault and murder as per the situation demands. George F. Et Al. 2008)

When family bonds are strong, both parents assist each other in taking care of the children and they are well socialized to know the social expectations but when households are headed by only one parent, the attention that should be given to the children is divided among other things and it is obvious that when a child lacks proper attention, guidance and counseling, they become juvenile criminals. Therefore family disruptions as a result of poverty leads to rise in female headed families, which in turn leads to juvenile delinquency.

In the United States of America, there are some states that have very high crime rate and yet the residents are not poor and there are some states where people are very poor and yet the crime rate is very low. This makes the debate over whether poverty has a relationship with crime very controversial. These claims are contradicted by the research findings on other areas findings in other areas where 53 percent of all the inmates are people from poor areas where they earned about less than 10,000 U. S dollars in a year. According to the economic theory, people weigh options before they commit crimes.

It is said that people engage themselves in crime only and only if the anticipated gains are more than the loss. (George F. Et Al. 2008) The obvious logical conclusion that can be inferred from this is that people who are poor and those who live in poverty-stricken households are more prone to community crimes than those who are not poor. Those people who are wallowing in poverty are more likely to commit crimes such as larceny, robbery, burglary and selling drugs and surveillance delinquency. If this is the case, then poor households and prisons should do something to reverse the situation.

This is because if poverty level goes up so does the crime rates and this in turn impacts on the prisons that get highly populated with criminals. The government should come up with measures that would help in breaking this relationship because this trend affects the correctional departments. There is no way you can correct the behavior of poor people because they are situational criminals. It is only that they are forced by circumstances to commit crimes. The only viable option of controlling or reducing the crime prevalence is to economically empower the poor citizens.

The fact that poverty and crime are interrelated is evident in the case of Detroit city, which is among the poorest cities in the United States of America. Poor citizens inhabit the surrounding area of this town. The system is marred by extreme poverty and loss of social control mechanisms. Most of the students who join campuses never graduate because before they could graduate, they get involved in criminal acts that render some of them in jails. Another thing that leads to the rise of criminal activities is the fact that in societies there are two extreme ends, and these are the rich and the poor.

In the United States the gap between the haves and have-nots is very high something that intrigues poor people to steal or engage in other forms of criminal activities just to earn their living. If a rich person is living in close proximity to the poor households, there is high probability that he/she will become a victim of assault, loss of properties and even robbery. This happens because the poor thinks that the rich are the ones who are making them poor and therefore they develop some bitterness that is only resolved by attacking them. (George F.

Et Al. 2008) There are various causes of poverty and some of them are high living standards. In most developed notion such as Japan, United States and others, it is not easy to live in cities if you depend on a low paying job. People might be employed but the living standards should be very high. This situation impoverishes the citizens for they find it hard to make the both ends meet. What the government should do is that it should provide those poor American households that belong to the poor with some house allowance so that they can lead a normal life.

This would help in reducing the bridge gap the gap between the rich and the poor which unless something is done soon, the gap is still widening. The lack of proper skills and education, limits ones chances of getting a good job Poor people cannot afford to provide for their children with good education that would make them competitive and this is why we should break the vicious cycle of poverty. Many Americans are poor because they cannot secure themselves some good jobs probably because there are no jobs or they do not academically qualify for those jobs. The government should devise ways and means of breaking this cycle.

Bursary system or subsidized education for the poor should be provided. This would offer the poor a chance to compete with those from the wealthy households. If this is done the high drop out rate from schools would be reversed as this is what has led to increased juvenile crimes because young children who should be in schools go to loiter in the streets as they cannot even afford to be in school. When these children receive high quality education, they would be able to look for well paying jobs that would help them in uplifting their living standards thereby breaking the vicious cycle.

Poverty is partly caused by lack of employment. Another thing that the government should do is to enforce the laws that deal with crimes. The judicial systems should make some reforms that would help it to ensure that justice is upheld. In the 1980s, the judicial system was very reluctant such that criminals received lesser punishment than they deserved something that greatly contributed to the rise in crime. The criminal laws should be made stronger though that they could bite hard. From the research findings, it is evident now that there is a relationship between the rate of poverty and crime rates.

Though there have been arguments that indicate otherwise, much of the evidence that has been collected point to the fact that the relationship between the two does exist. There have been claims that there are some states that are very poor and yet there are no high crime rates and that there are others that are among the highest in crime levels any yet the inhabitants not poor. This evidence cannot be downplayed for in every case there must be some exceptions and assumptions that have to be made. Both claims should be weighed well to know which one is truthful and in this case, the truth is that poverty lures people to become criminals.


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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 9 November 2016

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