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Andersen

Davyn Andersen
Clarence S. Ilario
CJ-1010-018
October 12th, 2014
Poverty and Prejudice Is the Great Catalyst of Crime
In Franklin Delano Roosevelts Second Inaugural Address, he said: The test of our
progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we
provide enough for those who have too little. (Good Reads) This quote was not only ignored by
our modern economists in the United States, as can be shown by the grossly imbalanced
distribution of the nations wealth from our small and affluent faction to the remainder of the
population, but was also an ideal abandoned by our criminal justice system, as well.
The correlation of criminality with impoverishment is far too obvious: looking at a mere
crime map would display the abundance of unlawful acts in the poorer sections of cities. Yet, we
would rather place our standards in sever and long prison sentences for criminal acts, which
over-populates our prison system, as a deterrent for crime, rather than prevent crime by focusing
on renewing both the educational facilities and businesses in impoverished areas through
government funding, so to fortify the possibility that a person born or found in squalor has a
proper employment that can assist them out of their dire circumstances. As to exemplify this,
according to a report by the NAACP, within the last two decades we have increased funding to
our prison system by six times more than our funding to our higher education system (Jealous
and Page), which demonstrates our disregard for our comprised public future, as we seem to be
pointing a large number of our population to an expectation of a later imprisonment rather than
an educated competence in a later career. Simply funding poorer communities with both new

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businesses and a more attentive school system, while maintaining their residences ability to still
pay for housing in the area, would act as a positive prevention to crime, unlike our currently used
option of disinterest in focusing educational need to low-income communities and using unfit
assumptions that negative reinforcement, by mostly warning of a possible punishment, will
correct the problem. As a precedence of urban renewal at work, we can use the entrepreneurial
efforts of former basketball player Magic Johnson, who, with much difficulty, convinced
investors to create a theatre in a more impoverished community with the desire to entice other
businesses to follow after, which worked, and increased both job and economic growth in the
area (Bloomberg). Not only did some nearby residence gain financial stability and a closer place
to shop, but also many local gang members were given an opportunity at honest work and onthe-job training by assisting on the construction of the theater, which was a purposeful tactic on
behalf of the owner: for it is a well known occurrence that many felons and ex-convicts find it
extremely hard to obtain employment after serving a prison sentence, and, in due, nearly always
return to crime, sometimes as a livelihood. This began the Magic Johnson Theater chain in
1994, which later arose in many other urban communities and created more jobs after, assisting
those environing them to unburden their economic troubles.
Many tend to blame the individuals of a poor community for their own circumstances,
but disregard key elements that placed them in their situations. An individual should take
responsibility for their own life, but find it next to impossible when certain items are actually
reducing their personal ability to strive in society: racial prejudice being the apex of these items.
A consensus in 2014 stated that 27.4% of Black Americans were living in poverty, which we can
compare with 9.9% of White, non-Hispanic, Americans (U.S. Census Bureau); a number
reported by the U.S. Bureau of Statistics shows that 39.4% of the prison population were African

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American in 2009 (an astounding figure as only 13.6% of the population is Black) (Drug War
Facts); and also according to a report by The Urgency of Now, only 52% of Black males are
graduating from high school in a four-year timespan as of 2012 (The Urgency of Now). All
three of those elements lead to a future of criminality within the mass of the Black public. It is
ignorant to refuse these percentages as a product of long-lived racial prejudice. The United
States of American maintains a tone of racial prejudice that actually has led to both the worlds
largest incarceration rate, and it is aiding in economic disaster. To make apparent this oppressive
cycle, the leading cause for imprisonment of African American males is the possession of an
illegal substance (a nonviolent offense that in mine and many others opinion has too harsh of a
penalty), which has been statistically proven that a person of Black ethnicity is four times more
likely to be convicted for than a Caucasian (Drug War Facts 2). These drastic punishments often
lead to a mostly broken home, as an average 57.5% of both state and federal inmates have minor
children (McCarthy, Karen). The partners, or mothers of their children, to these inmates are then
forced into the temporary or possibly permanent role of a single mother, forcing these women to
frequently seek financial assistance from the government in order to aid them to raise their
children. Then a conservative ideal often focuses shame towards these mothers, having the
belief that they desired to become a burden to the average taxpayer. The father then, in his own
way, has become a burden to the taxpayer as well, but not of his will, as our government is
paying to keep him incarcerated. The children are raised in an impoverished household, giving
them further chance that they will end up for future criminality and incarceration as well, due to
the offspring of criminal offenders being five times more likely to be later imprisoned (Prison
Fellowship Organization). And I have yet to mention that even when the father is released again
to the outside world, he will truly know it next to impossible to find a descent job, because only

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12.5% of employers claim that they would accept an application from an ex-convict (Lovoy,
Les). (A number of these situations are not solely happening to the African American faction of
the country, but I feel it necessary to focus on how drastic the penal system has been to Black
males in particular.) It is also well known that a Black male is less likely to be employed over
any other race, even with a college degree (Howze, Thaddeus). The families of convicts are now
in ruin for possible generations all for what can be traced back to a small plastic bag of an illegal
substance.
The best tactic to correct this situation is to follow what Magic Johnson did and establish
better economies in impoverished urban areas, and not excluding the ones with a majority of
black residences. If we began setting up low-income housing next to new businessesnot
necessarily high end marketplaces, but stores, restaurants, or places of entertainment that would
draw a number of persons around and outside the vicinity to supply them businessI believe our
society would be able to aid desperate individuals away from circumstances that would motivate
them to commit a crime by giving them an honest occupation, which could direct them towards a
better living situation and possible career in their future. Government funding to help in the
creation of these businesses and maintain low-income housing, rather than refurbishing prisons,
would be economically positive by creating jobs and heightening the exchange of money for
goods and services. It would also reduce the crime rate in not only the urban area where the new
businesses have been planted but the surrounding areas, as well, which would then lower the
prison population. A reduction in sentence for non-violent crimes, such as the possession of
small amounts of illegal substances, will assist in this as well. It is not wise to socially destroy a
person who merely might be physically attacking his or her own body with a substance rather
than the more significant act of seeking the injury of others. Finding strategies to lead these

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individuals away from drug use, rather than severely punishing them by turning them into even
more severe criminals through the prison system for harms to themselves would be a far greater
method than any other. In regards to employment of former convicts, there really should be no
further incentive than the fact that a business will be helping these individuals reform from their
past by giving them employment, and not letting them cause more social ills in the business
community by maintaining the ex-convicts dire situation. There are certainly degrees of crimes
that would make the former inmates employment with various companies very undesired, but it
necessary to allow these individuals proper employment, and not letting them fall back to illegal
activity that depreciates the environs of local businesses. Employers cant be forced to, but must
begin to find it necessary to accept more applications from former convicts to assist the
communities of their businesses.
As for the discrimination of race causing criminality, the actual cure is to instill in the
minds of the general public through educational methods and reasoning that prejudice is
damnable for causing our social and economical downfalls. That is if one is unable to
convince another that it is imperative to treat people equally regardless of their race.

Citations:
Quotes About Poverty. Good Reads. Good Reads Inc., n.d. Web. 12 October 2014.
Benjamin Todd Jealous and Rod Page. Prison Spending Bleeds Education. CNN
Opinion. CNN. 7 April. 2011. Web. 12 October 2014.
Bloomberg TV. 5 April 2012. Bloomberg Game Changers. USA. Bloomberg TV.
Macartney, Suzanne; Bishaw, Alemayehu; and Fontenot, Kayla. Poverty Rates for
Selected Detailed Race and Hispanic Groups by State and Place: 2007-2011. United States

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Census Bureau. 13 February. Web. 12 October 2014.


Drug War Facts. Race and Prison n.d. Web. 12 October 2014.
The Urgency Now. Black Male Graduation Rates. Black Boys Report Organization.
n.d. Web. 12 October 2014.
McCarthy, Karen. Office of Justice Programs Release. 26 August 2008. Web. 12 October
2014.
Prison Fellowship. Facts About Children of Prisoners. Prison Fellowship Organization.
n.d. Web. 12 October 2014.
Lovoy, Les. Life After Prison: Ex-Felons Often Struggle to Find a Job. NPR. 25 June
2014. Web. 12 Oct 2014.
Howze, Thaddeus. Black Men Left Out of Job Recovery With Malice and
Forethought. The Goodmen Project. 29 June 2012. Web. 12 October 2014.