Synthesis - Poverty and Crime

Synthesis - Poverty and Crime - Poverty and Crime Sharon...

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Sharon Wang Professor Ek Writing 2 12 November 2008 What is the Correlation Between Poverty and Crime? There is wide debate on the issues of poverty and crime; while one argument is that unemployment and low-income contributes to high crime rates, another view is that criminal activity is responsible for poor neighborhoods. Does poverty cause crime? Or does crime cause poverty? Is there even a connection between the two? George Winslow, a journalist and author of the book Capital Crimes , Eli Lehrer, a member of the Heritage Foundation, a research institution devoted to devising and advancing public policy, and William P. Barr, a former U.S. Attorney General, have all researched this poverty-crime relationship. However, they disagree in their views of the correlation. In Winslow’s article “Capital Crimes: The Political Economy of Crime in America,” he took the position, which contended that poverty contributes to crime. Winslow (2000) gave an example of higher crime activity in poorer neighborhoods: In 1993, the New York City Police Department reported that twelve of the city’s seventy- four precincts—all twelve located in impoverished areas of Harlem, the Bronx, and Brooklyn—reported a total of 854 homicides . . . while twelve other precincts—all located in more affluent terrain—reported only thirty-seven homicides. (p. 19) In other words, significantly higher rates of violent crime occur in neighborhoods suffering from poverty than in areas that were better economically. Furthermore, Winslow noted that “reduced wages, higher unemployment rates, and lower government benefits played a crucial role in the 1
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rise of street crime. Likewise, improved economic conditions after 1993 [contributed to] the recent reductions in street crime” (p. 25). Clearly, low earnings, unemployment and not enough government assistance are factors for increased crime rates. The lack of sustainability seems to lead to misconduct; thus, the kind of criminal activity committed by low-income groups tends to be for material gain. The negative correlation is also true for the opposite. A more prosperous region often sees less crime compared to that of a poverty-stricken one. Still, Winslow admitted that most poor male youths do not commit highly violent misconduct in their lifetime. In contrast, Lehrer (2000) asserted that “poverty and neighborhood degradation often result from crime” in his article “Crime-Fighting and Urban Renewal” (p. 27). Instead of accepting the stance that poverty causes crime, Lehrer’s standpoint was that crime leads to poverty. “When crime drops drastically, low-income neighborhoods come back to life,” wrote Lehrer (2000, p. 27).
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Synthesis - Poverty and Crime - Poverty and Crime Sharon...

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