SOC371H5 Chapter Notes -Poorhouse
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Jeffery Reiman’s “…and the poor get prison”
Weeding out the Wealthy
Prisons are “national poor house”. People think dangerous crimes are committed mainly by poor people. Seeing the
population of prison reassured this belief. They think CJS gives ture fefliction of dangers that threaten community. The
reality is, jails are full of poor people not because they are the ones that threaten community the most, but because CJS
lets the wealthy escaple. Ultimately, only poor are left behind. Also, out definition of “crime” excludes the kids of crime
wealthy people engage in.
Purpose of the Paper
“Justice has two transmission belts, one for the rich and one for the poor.” The healthier the accused is, the greater the
change of being ignored/released/treated lightly by system. Hence the CJS functions in a way to make sure that prison is
filled with “lowest social and economic groups in county”. As a result, the image of the criminal population we see in jail
is distorted due to CJS’s malfunction.
The poor criminal is usually black.
Common methodological mistakes in research on race in CJS that hide racial bias:
Mixing racial and ethnic groups
Ignoring presentencing decisions in studies
Assembling various data from different crimes
Failure to consider impact of race of victim
Use of various types of national data
Failure to properly differentiate legal from extralegal factors
There is much research on differential treatment of races, but very less on differential treatment of economic class
beucse FBI omits class/income when arresting.
Racism is a form of economic bias. There are five reasons for this notion:
1. Black Americans are disproportionately poor.
2. Blacks are more likely than whites to live in disorganized inner-city areas. This is becase a greater percentage of
balcks than whites are poor and unemployed
3. Blacks who travel the full route of the CJS and end up in jail or prison are close in economic conditions to whites
4. Racism produces a kind of selective economic bias, making a certain segment of unemployed even more likelyto
end up behind bars
5. There are relatively high incidence of poverty and/or unemployment among balcks, but racially bias criminal
justive policies and economically biased criminal justive policies will result in poor people being
disproportionately arrested and imprisoned
How does CJS “weeks out wealthy”?
NOTE: firstly, wealthy= middle and upper class offenders. Secondly, not all poor are innocent victims persecuted by evil
rich. Poor people do commit crime.
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