Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Social Class and crime have always been considered by many people as a direct correlation between the two. Many see it as the higher of class you are the lower chance of you committing crimes or just being arrested in general while those who are less fortunate and live in a lower-class are more likely to partake in criminal activity and be arrested. This is unfair to those lower-class individuals who might be committing small crimes and getting locked away while the higher-class people might be committing worse crimes, but you don’t hear about it due to the fact they have more money and can get out of it. Three authors talked about the correlation and their thoughts on it and those authors were Karl Marx, Richard Quinney and Jeffery Reiman.
In Class Conflict and Law by Karl Marx, Marx viewed the structure of society by ranking the society into different classes. The higher class like kings, queens and important people and go all the way down to the slaves and poor people. Marx saw class as an ownership of property and not by income or status and the more property you owned the more powerful you were. He described how there were two main classes in society the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie were the higher-class people who owned factory buildings, machinery and made profit while the proletariat were the lower-class slaves who would sell themselves to the richer people and work to pay off a “debt”. Marx said that there’s a class interest among each class that bides them into a community and its based off their similar situations and usually have a common income of wages or income of profit depending on the class. Marx believes that everyone of the same class has common interests or participate in common acts together, he believes a man of a high class and a man of a lower class don’t share the same interests and that’s why they are separated. Another article about social class and crime is Class, State, and Crime by Richard Quinney. Quinney talks about how even though Marx sees the class problem through a socialist view, Quinney believes that the struggle is due to capitalism. Quinney states that the first question we must ask ourselves when trying to find the relation between class and crime is “what is the meaning of crime in the development of capitalism”?
He believes that social life in a capitalist society involves crime so therefore its related to the economic conditions and that the class struggle is caused by these conditions. Just like Marx, Quinney believes that class conflict is between those who own property and those who don’t, but also those who are oppressed and those who aren’t. Quinney states how there are 3 types of crime in society that higher class people commit but usually aren’t charged. The crimes of economic dominations which are considered white collar crimes that are committed by wealthy companies and wealthy business men. The crimes of government which are crimes committed by political figures. Also, there’s crimes of control which are the felonies and misdemeanors that police and law enforcement commit against people who are accused of other crimes usually they use violence and brutality. Quinney also talks about that the people who seek to control production seek it through domination and try to put down others who try to stop them. Quinney has some good points and talks about how many upper-class people commit crimes and they go unnoticed while those who are lower class seem to get screwed over way more. The final article is The Rich get Richer and The Poor Get Prison by Jefferey Reiman who talks about how the criminal justice system can only be a just system if it equally protects the rights of those who are in the system. He believes that if the criminal justice system does not protect the rights and liberties of individuals than it is criminal, and is controlled by corrupt police, courts and prisons whose acts are violent towards the system. One main thing Reiman talks about is protecting society, and that poverty has a lot to do with breeding crime into individuals who are lower class. Reiman believes that there are certain things we can do to help lower class society and prevent them from committing crimes by providing high quality education, job training and investing in inner cities. These three things are important because many lower-class people don’t have a good education which can lead young kids to turn to the streets. They also don’t have job training so to the adults who need to get a job, they’re more likely to get passed up on because they don’t have the proper training. Also investing in inner cities where the lower-class lives can help by making the place nicer, so people don’t have to live in bad housing. Reiman also talks about how helping those already incarcerated could help them from committing crimes when they get out. He believes training offenders for work skills would help and by assuring them the right to equally compete for jobs once they release. Making sure the offenders who are just coming out of jail could have a chance at getting a job would help a lot and help families so that none of the family goes to jail. Promoting Justice is another big thing for Reiman because he believes that the discretionary powers of law enforcement, judges and prosecutors are too high and that we should lower them. Also, that they should be held accountable for being fair and reasonable for decisions.
Social class and crime do have a correlation and its been like that for many years in every society but with these theories are good things and bad things. If I had two critiques for these three articles I would have to start with Karl Marx. Marx Believed that only property determined your social class, but I believe that property isn’t the only thing that has to do with social class and that the amount of money you have and family you are born into also play roles in determining you class. Another critique I have would be for Reiman and his theory. In Reiman’s theory he suggests that offenders should get job training so they can compete for jobs, but I believe that it really doesn’t matter because many people who are offenders who want a job are going to get passed up on regardless do to their history. Also, there are some questions I would like to ask some of the authors if they were currently here. One question I have would be for Marx and I would ask “Why do you believe that there are only two classes in society and not a middle class”? I think Marx didn’t believe in a middle class at the time when now a days there’s a very certain middle class. Another question I have would be for Reiman and it would be “do you believe that training offenders and trying to give them a fair shot at a job would actually work”? I don’t know if this suggestion would work because it all depends on the employer.
These policy’s fit into society today because as we see, certain areas that have lower crime rate are the areas where richer and higher-class people live while u see also that the higher the crime rate, the more likely it is to be a lower-class area. Reiman’s theory really fits in to schools because the schools with the lower graduation rates are more likely to be schools in bad areas with low end teaching while schools with higher graduation rates seem to be higher end schools with high end teaching. By giving kids in lower class areas better teaching the chances of going up in graduation rate is better.
This theory somewhat ties in with deterrence theory because it’s really not talking about how to deter criminals its just talking about how different classes and how one class is more likely to commit more crime than the other. But it’s also talking about how to deter criminals of a lower class by giving the younger kids better education so they don’t grow up on the streets and it talks about giving adult offenders job skills so they can go get a job out of prison.
This theory adds to my understanding of crime because it’s what I have always learned that lower class people are more subject to commit crimes, harsher punishments, and an unfair criminal justice system. While the higher-class individuals are more likely to get lighter sentences or not even get sentenced to prison. This shows how unfair the legal system can be and how different societies are from different perspectives.