Inequality and crime is one thing which has a positive correlation between one another. This inequality relating to crime is basically considered as the economic inequality, which comes about as a result of difference in financial stability among members in the society. It is considered as the gap, which is inexistence between the rich and the poor people in the society. A number of studies have been done in order to determine the relationship of income inequality and crime. Crime is more particularly in unequal societies, since there is more wealth, which will be taken away in an event of a crime. The relationship between the income inequality of individuals in the society and the incidence of crimes has raised a number of interests (Choe, 2008).
The rate of crime in a given society is related directly to the inequality in the society. A number of studies have been conducted in order to indicate this relationship. A number of these studies showed a high rate of violence in places where there is a high experience of income differences. This has ignited interest in trying to establish the correlation of inequality and crime incidence in the society. Society as a whole is faced with a number of crime incidences. These crimes are associated with two classes of the people found in the society. These are the lower class society and the upper class society. These two classes come about as a result of difference in financial stability. There is a clear difference exhibited in the society regarding the issues of crime among these two classes of people. These differences affect the way crimes are dealt with generally in the society. Different types of crime occur in respect to these two societal groups, which have different approaches on how they are handled (Emrah, 2005).
Societal Status and Crime Prevalence
The society is comprised of a group of people, who share some common identities hence forming a particular social class. Social class is a set of different types of concepts in the social sciences as well as on political basis. These social identifications form social stratifications, whereby the individuals are grouped into a sort of hierarchal social categories. Class has been used in a number of occasions, especially in categorizing of individuals. Social class is used synonymously with the society economic class. This, therefore, describes a group of people, who have the same social economic as well as are in the same educational status, for instance, working class. The society is divided into two forms of classes that are upper class and the lower class. The upper class is considered to comprise those people, who are economically stable, while the lower class comprises those individuals, who have not yet gained economic stability (Vellani, 2010).
In the society, crime is considered as one of the forms of deviance. Some people in the society consider crime as a form of anomic behavior, while others look at crime generally as a conscious response towards certain social conditions, stress or even as a result of some breakdown, especially on the matters of law enforcement, as well as the social order. Criminal consideration generally varies from one individual to another and also from the view of the society. Some of the criminologists consider that some particular offenders are usually born into environments, for instance, extreme poverty or else in an environment, whereby they are greatly discriminated upon and regarded as a minority groups and hence, these factors tend to generate criminal behavior in them (Frischtak and Mandel, 2012).
The rates of crime in the society tend to change, especially in regards to the social status. More crimes are committed during the time of depression, for instance, after war. In respect to the social status, it has been established that crimes vary greatly with the status. For instance, we have high rates of crime being experienced on the lower-class individuals in the society as opposed to high level individuals. The low-class and high-class in the society are considered to commit different crimes. These types of crimes differ as a result of social status within the society. Crime has depended greatly on the extent of the poverty of individuals, as well as the income inequality. In this case, the low class individuals with low income are mostly found engage in a number of minor crimes in the society, while the high class engages in white collar crimes (Hall, 2007).
Crime Prevalence within the Lower Class of Society
A number of researches have been conducted and consequently associated poverty with crime. Poor people are considered to be the lower-class people in the society. It is believed that a number of people in the society, who are poor, have a high tendency of engaging in criminal activities. These criminal activities among the lower class individuals have been associated with the fact the poor possess greater motivation aimed at satisfying their means. A number of the researches have linked poverty to crime; they have suggested that those individuals coming from the poor families, as well as the communities, have a more likelihood of stealing, robbing or even involving in selling of drugs (Frischtak and Mandel, 2012).
According to the study done by Quetelet in France (Emrah, 2005), it was noted that more property stealing existed between those communities, which were wealthy, since they had more to steal compared to poor communities, which had low preference due to the absence of inequality. This has indicated that poverty is a great contributor to the high rate of crime. The increase in the rate of unemployment is also leading greatly on the massive increase in the rate of crime. High rate of unemployment accelerates incidences of crimes. This is due to the fact that people want to attain economic stability in order to support their lives hence, involving in those uncalled for practices (Choe, 2008).
The socio-economic strata as well as the classes in the society are merely not a reflection in respect to the crime in the society as a whole. However, one of the factors that are influencing crime is the state of low-class living that is generating more residents, who are at a greater risk of engaging in criminal activities. One of the factors contributing the poor to engage in criminal activities is the fact that people in the society derive their respect from their wealth as well as the material possession status. This makes the poor to end up engaging in unlawful activities as the only means of obtaining property. The lawful ways limit them in being able to obtain material possession or own a good home as well as get access to education (U.S Department of Justice, 1997).
Social economic factors have been widely linked to criminal activities. A positive correlation has been demonstrated between the rates of the crime and the socio-economic factors like the per capita income, as well as the inequality and the rate of employments. A negative relationship exists between crime and the total percentage of the population, which is found below the poverty line. More crimes seem to occur in cases, whereby some legal opportunities aiming at gaining employment are denied (Vellani, 2010).
Crime Prevalence within the Higher Class Society
The higher class society is a class of the society, which consists of those people, who are economically stable in the society. These people are greatly associated with white collar crimes. White collar crimes are referred to those crimes, which are committed by those people, who belong to the upper social class. They are seen to commit these crimes, especially in the course of their professional activity. White collar crimes have the potential of incurring huge loss of income. One of the main challenges facing the crackdown of white collar crime in our society is the fact these crimes are very difficult to be detected. Unlike a number of other crimes committed by individuals’, especially the low class individuals in the society, white collar crimes are usually committed in privacy, especially in an office or at home. These crimes make them difficult to be detected, since in most cases there are no eye witnesses to witness on the crimes (Emrah, 2005).
In the United States, the reported cases of white collar crimes are generally low compared to the crimes encountered in the streets, although there is a very high incidence of the white collar crimes among the elite people. Most of the higher class people are engaged in these crimes and cost the society a lot. The financial loss incurred by a society as a result of white-collar crime is much greater than the financial loss that is experienced from the burglaries, robberies as well as other forms of crime, which are committed by the lower socioeconomic class of people (U.S Department of Justice, 1997).
It is greatly considered by a number of elite people that the financial loss generated as a result of white collar crimes has the least consequences when compared to any sort of ordinary crimes. Ordinary crimes are associated with causing a number of inconveniences in the society to the victims of the society. It is considered that when a certain community experiences some sort of disturbances, it is able to gather its forces through the leadership of those, who are in the upper socioeconomic class. One of the great impacts of the white collar crimes is that they come in and destroy the societal morale, as well as promoting social disorganization. Since crimes are considered as the violation of trust, they have the potential of creating and extending some feelings of distrust towards people (Frischtak & Mandel, 2012).
Actions against white collar crimes are lacking, this is because most of the leaders come from the upper socioeconomic class. Therefore, these leaders become reluctant to attack their fellow elites. There has been lack of effective laws against these white collars crimes and hence, little is done. This makes the higher socioeconomic status of the society remain high.
Differences between Crime and Class Status in the Society
While taking a look of the prisons in the United States, it is evident that a majority of the inmates come from the lower socioeconomic status communities. With the current criminal justice system people coming from the lower class of the society are more likely to face charges, conviction. When sentenced to prison, they are more likely to have longer prison terms compared to the white collar criminals and the elite people in the society. The judicial system has become a system, where poor people are oppressed (Frischtak & Mandel, 2012).
Even though the poor people indicate high rates in respect to person as well as the property crimes, those crimes, which are found committed by the high-class individuals in the society, are more widespread and result in greater detriment of the economic status. One of the main differences is that those crimes, which are committed by the people, who are in high class social status, are not as actively pursued in comparison to those crimes, which are committed by the low class society (Frischtak & Mandel, 2012).
According to a survey done in America by the Presidential Crime Commission, it was concluded that almost 91 percent of the total Americans had committed serious crimes that had the potential of earning them a term in prison at one time in their lives. Although crime has been an issue, which has been affecting the whole society across all levels of socioeconomic classes, crime has had a different target across the society. In respect to socio class, the legal systems have been developed in such a way that they favor the elite in the society. This does not mean that the people of the high class avoid being arrested but only depicts that once these people are arrested they have a tendency of receiving a lesser sentences as compared to other people of the lower class (U.S Department of Justice, 1997).
One of another things perpetuating inequality in respect to the criminal justice system is the different treatment that the police officers give to the upper class citizens in contrast to the lower class citizens. This has been attributed to the fact that poor people generally have less privacy compared to the high class individuals, hence making them to be more vulnerable as well as visible to police than any other group in the society (Emrah, 2005).
In most of the United States prisons have been flooded with drug offenders, who in total account for 59 percent of the total federal inmates. Out of these inmates, who are serving their term in prison as a result of being involved in drugs, are the Black Americans, who are considered as the low-class. This is in contrast with the fact that of all the total Americans involved in drugs, the Black Americans involving in drug activities makes up only 11 percent of the total population. This shows how the poor people are treated unfairly in matters regarding to justice (Choe, 2008).
The discrimination among the people of the lower social class that is the minority people has been greatly influenced by the matters of race in America. The sentencing project of the American state has great political influence, which sees a number of black Americans undergoing some oppression among them. A number of restrictions have also been placed on the mattes regarding to loans for the higher education, having an access to welfare as well as housing for all those individuals, who have been found to have a number of drug convictions. With these restrictions, the lower class people tend to remain at low status in the society without any prospect of progression and hence having to face oppression of the high-class people, who are not adversely affected by these restrictions (Vellani, 2010).
Although the criminal justice system strongly claims to serve the society equally, some discrimination exists against minorities from the lower class. This results in a high rate of imprisonment as well as sentencing among lower class members compared to those people, who come from the higher society. This discrepancy in the crimes leave the lower class more oppressed than the elite people. This is facilitated by the judicial system as well as the police treatment together with the high rate of the minority incarceration (Frischtak & Mandel, 2012).
It is quite clear that there is a correlation existing between the inequality and crime. Different classes commit different levels of crime, which have a different treatment by the authorities. Low classes continue to experience oppression, while the high class continues to enjoy some favors even by the court rulings. This shows how the matters of inequality in the society are influencing on crime.