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To What Extent Does Low Socioeconomic Status Affect the Number of Convicts?

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According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, for every 1000 people, 350 are convicted of crimes. The purpose behind these convictions varies, some including race and socioeconomic status. According to Lawrence D. Bobo and Victor Thompson, 43.3% of blacks convicted are in a federal or state prison, although they only make up 13% of the overall US population. Terrence C. Thornberry claims that race and socioeconomic status contribute to juvenile sentencing. Therefore, there has been evidence of socioeconomic status contributing to conviction rates. With these claims, the question of to what extent does low socioeconomic status impact conviction rates arose.

Disparities among races have contributed to a vast amount of convictions. An example of such racial disparities is white flight, which impacted the economy, as well as the crime rates, decreasing economic development and increasing crime. Minorities affected by the white flight, such as African Americans, have a higher risk of being convicted or fined (Ferguson, 143). This means that minorities have been correlated with low economic growth, and when they are convicted, they usually have a large bail to pay that they can’t pay off. According to Thomas C. Henthorn, a historical author, the white flight led to a low economic development in affected areas (Henthorn, 74). The low economic development led to people in the area, mostly blacks, compelled to commit crimes to obtain money as well as food to survive, which increased the conviction of African Americans (Henthorn, 81). This means that with this decrease in economic development, the area would be a breeding ground for crimes, and because of this, many were convicted for having low socioeconomic status. Although the white flight decreased the economic development, the reason for crime convictions isn’t forced. This means the people of the city aren’t forced to commit crimes and should be provided with the basic necessities or have some kind of job to earn money (Henthorn, 93). However, areas of low economic growth have a low circulation of currency, therefore families do not have viable income; this causes their conviction rates to increase. When areas have low economic growth, there is very little money circling around for families to earn or even for them to survive, which cause their conviction rates to increase (Bobo and Thompson, 484). The white flight caused a decrease in the economic growth of many cities and contributing to the amount of convictions happening.

Education also impacts the conviction rates of an area. Low SES leads to a lack of educational funding, decreasing the amount of certified teachers in some areas— these areas tend to have a 4 out of 5 dropout rate. Areas with low socioeconomic status don't have a substantial education, because those areas don't have enough funding to educate residents thoroughly. Areas of low socioeconomic status have a 4 in 5 dropout rate due to insufficient funding in schools (Bobo and Thompson, 462). The schools in those areas have very little funding due to low economic growth, which decreases the amount of certified teachers to educate the children (Bobo and Thompson, 464). This means that the children aren’t getting a great amount of education, which leads them to dropout. When a student is no longer going to school, they need to find a way to earn money. Many students go to then look for work, if they no longer go to school which, in an area with low economic growth, may be difficult because of the low economic growth of their area, decreasing the likelihood of finding a job and increasing the chance of committing felonies hard for them to find. The low amount of jobs may decrease their need to get a job, which may lead to them getting into trouble (Wu, 78). This means that when a student doesn’t go to school or have a job, they may get into trouble and commit a crime. Although educational funding is low, students have others to tell them whether something is right or wrong (Ferguson, 95). However, about 13.4% of those who drop out leave their family to live with friends. One’s education can lead to criminal convictions, especially of those under the age of 18, if they don’t have some type of education. Convictions of people juveniles under 18 have increased when there has been very little education in an area with low economic growth. Therefore, a person’s education may impact conviction rates.

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Socioeconomic status is a leading factor in conviction rates being that income, the amount of money a person has, could impact how and if they are convicted. Defendants of people with low socioeconomic status generally don't receive get good representation in court when they are accused of a crime (Thornberry, 98). When a convicted person is convicted of a crime and they can’t cannot pay for a private attorney, they are appointed a defense counsel, so they are given one at random. When given an attorney at random, the attorney may not have time to review their person’s case as very well, not giving the defendant person convicted a great chance of avoiding the conviction (Thornberry, 107). This means that more often than not they will be convicted of the crime and incarcerated, will have to spend time in jail over a crime, in which someone with higher SES wouldn’t be convicted of something that someone with more money could have gotten out of. People with a higher socioeconomic status can pay off people such as the judge, attorney, or victim to hide their crimes (Bobo and Thompson, 497). Politicians and celebrities have paid off victims and judges, which is money coming in to provides money to the government, but meaning that they aren’t being convicted of crimes that they committed.

Although people with high socioeconomic status (SES) pay to have their crimes hidden, Erik York Conwell, states that the judge or attorney will not accept because they were sworn under oath to protect the people. However, about 7.2% of judges break the oath they took to protect the people. The judges that break this oath show that several people with high SES aren’t convicted for their crimes due to their socioeconomic status.

White flight, socioeconomic status, and the educational quality of people impact the amount of convictions and how people are convicted. The white flight led to discrimination and low economic growth, the SES of a person showed whether they would or would not be convicted harshly or the harshness of their convictions not at all, and educational funding in areas can also impact the rate of convictions. A government program, which is currently being used in Australia, has increased screening for judges dealing with convictions, as well as providing necessary needs to areas of low economic growth and funding for education (Ferguson, 173). If this implemented, in America, implications to this solution could be lack of governmental approval due to an increased amount of funding, the government might not approve a program such as this due to increased funding for trials, judges, education, and areas of low SES. But, if the program or a similar program isn’t implemented, there may be an increase in the conviction rates of in areas with low SES areas, as well as insubstantial education.

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To What Extent Does Low Socioeconomic Status Affect the Number of Convicts? (2023, September 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from
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