The Problems Surrounding Poverty and Crime

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Wow, when I really sat back and gave this essay a title, I never realized that the problems surrounding poverty and crime were so intertwined. For instance, while the economy of a country is a well-known cause of impoverished societies, does having a weak economy justify a countries crime problem? Either way, many feel as though poverty causes crime, while others feel as though crime is a result of poverty.

Therefore, when considering that if poverty causes crime, then why are crime rates higher in the United States as opposed to a third world country? One simple answer to this question can be the anti-poverty programs such as welfare that was put in place by the U.S. as a way to compensate people for unemployment or being single parents. "As a structural view, this points to deviance within the social structure, including family, community and economy. For example, increasing crime has been linked with unemployment although falls in unemployment have not been linked by falls in crime rates" (Spicker, 2010). This means the United States has caused a behavioral problem within, by paying people not to work or be married through this so called welfare program. In reality people are being rewarded for doing nothing to better their lives and relying on the government to provide for them, when our government cannot even take care of itself financially. Therefore, the economic problems within the U.S. may very well worsen social problems, such as crime, termination of family structures, drug abuse, and reliance on governmental assistance.

Although it is said that one out of three families falls below the poverty line. Within the United States, crime is often viewed as a problem amongst areas with high poverty levels. However there are many other contributing elements including unemployment, population density, minority population and age dispersal all of which can be found in the U.S. and correlate with higher crime levels.

Furthermore, poverty's effects on crime may be explained through a number of issues such as, the differences in the rate of mental illness among the social classes of the poor and the rich. While poverty is known for to high levels of stress, it may in fact lead to theft, robbery, or other violent acts.  "Likewise the problems surrounding poverty may lead to a substandard education, causing juveniles to rely on a lower quality of education from the school system, professions, and role models, decreasing the penalties of crime and increasing the probability of our youth spending time on the streets" (Ludwig, Duncan, & Hirschfield, 1999).

As a result, crimes are committed by impoverished people as a way of obtaining material goods that otherwise could not be attained through an appropriate means.  Often there are times when criminals threaten or use force to help them acquire even more goods; which normally encourages them to commit vicious acts of robbery which is considered the second most violent crime.  Unfortunately, within the United States, for many impoverished people the rewards that the crime produces far outweighs the punishment of being caught, especially given that the opportunity of committing a crime cost is less because the punishments do not fit the crimes. "For example, prisons make rehabilitation unlikely because they tend to degrade offenders, remove them further from noncriminal social control, therefore making them more competent in criminal activity" (Lauer & Lauer, 2011).

Even when considering that higher levels of crimes occur where there are higher concentrations of minority populations in an area, it can be linked to poverty due to the amount of minorities living within impoverished urban areas. "Such as, racial discrimination that refers to the deliberate use of argumentative selection as a means of placing people from certain racial or ethnic groups in an inferior position, but deliberate discrimination is not necessary to explain the racially disadvantage; when the effects of denying access to the resources, opportunities and conditions of life available to others is to make the experience of disadvantage worse" (Spicker, 2010). Additionally, racism towards minorities can be influential in reference to inferior pay as well as a smaller amount jobs, thus resulting in higher poverty rates and more crimes committed within those areas. This leads me to the social stratification issues associated with cultural factors such as inequality that influence crime rates. "While social class largely determines an individual's chances in life as well as the life styles they live, it also influences their patterns of behavior which in fact can be related to criminal activity" (Hughes, Kroehler, & Vander Zanden, 2002).

Because of the way in which population density influences' living conditions it is also likely to be interrelated with either crime or poverty. "Studies have established that more heavily populated areas tend to be poorer and have a higher ratio of individuals ranging in age from 12 to 20, consist of a larger population of single-parent family units, and larger nonwhite populations" (Ludwig, Duncan, & Hirschfield, 1999). This leads to various misconceptions of poverty and crime. For instance, while crime rates are normally higher by those who are living in poverty stricken areas, all those who are disadvantaged do not necessarily resort to a life of crime. Another more relevant misconception within the U.S. is the nation that minorities are more likely to resort to criminal behaviors because of their skin color rather than their cultural differences. Either way, these misconceptions normally result in argumentative effects of racism or bigotry especially when it comes to actual meetings between those who live within the poverty level and those that fall short.

Therefore it is of utmost importance that societies have an understanding about the problems surrounding poverty and crime which will without doubt cause citizens to take pride in their social network and become productive members within society. Crime is not caused by people who are naturally mean, they are far and few between. Poverty and a need to survive are what cause crime. It has been proven time and time again; poverty is the root of crime and then crime causes people to turn mean. Although eliminating poverty has been the objective of many politicians throughout history, nothing of this scale will be solved overnight. While the economy works against the poor in three ways: by allowing the concentration of wealth, by entangling the poor in a malicious cycle, and by guaranteeing that a certain percentage of the population will be unable to find employment or jobs that pay more than poverty level wages" (Lauer & Lauer, 2011). Therefore to improve conditions within the United States means an equalization of wealth dispersal, superior economic policies and a society-wide responsibility to solving the problem.

So in conclusion, considering that poverty and crime are so closely intertwined, nothing will change until the poverty levels across America are addressed in an appropriate manner, that some of the crime that goes with poverty is eliminated as well. As far those that think that crime causes poverty, I have to disagree because of the overwhelming facts that poverty is caused by a weak economy and crime just rides the coat tail of the impoverished. Furthermore, simply removing those individuals from impoverished conditions through equality of wealth and social stratification could be the cure to a social disease known as poverty, and watch the crime rate drop. Either way, it may take years, but it is definitely for a moral cause.