Poverty And Crime

Powerful Essays
The notion that crime and poverty have their roots in the lifestyles and preferences of the poor has a long history in American political culture; the concept of poverty-related issues is severely misled by racial and ethnic stereotypes (Beckett, 1997). The communities who live in poverty largely consist of lower class workers and people of color, and the war on crime, started by Ronald Reagan, only exemplified the stigma of the lower classes being cruel and dangerous. Reagan’s war on crime pressured federal law enforcement agencies to shift their attention to street crime, which had tremendous racial connotations, instead of white-collar offenses (Beckett, 1997). Political institutions are responsible for “protecting members of society from…show more content…
Judges, prosecutors, public defenders and the police, while all working to ensure the safety of the public, have conflicting priorities. The police have the incentive to make countless arrests, increasing their arrest rate by aggressively pursuing minor crimes with poor evidence, fabricating stories to discredit the offender and deny the victims. Similarly, the prosecutors have the incentive to convict the defendants brought to them by the police, which is made infinitely more difficult by the influx of weak cases they receive. In the case of the Central Park Five, the moment the DNA evidence was discovered to not match the boys’, the investigation should have been stopped, or at least paused, and moved in a different direction; it is highly improbable that the boys did not leave a single track on the scene, and equally, or more, improbable that the scene did not leave a single trace on them. However, even with the lack of matching DNA evidence, the boys were still convicted of the crime; they had confessed to the crime. Confessions are irresistibly persuasive, and the effects cannot be reversed. Once a confession is given, it corrupts everything else, trumping DNA evidence and even changing witness testimonies. With the prosecutor’s argument of “just because we didn’t get all of them doesn’t mean we didn’t get all of them,” the public was completely convinced that the boys had committed the crime, and once a strong belief that somebody is guilty of a crime is formed, the contradictory details do not matter. The evidence may not fit the accusation, but they do not fundamentally change the belief in their guilt. To ensure that instances of excessive use of force are either discredited or framed within the “one bad apple” theory, the authorities fabricated a story to the press and labeled the boys as the “rotten” individuals who conspired with a sixth person (Beckett and
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