A Crime by Any Other Name… The main issue in Reiman and Leighton’s The Rich get Richer and the poor get prison is how crime is labeled; “A Crime by Any Other Name” to be exact. How “crime” is labeled comes depends on the nature of the crimes as legislatures and police officers must use discretion when deciding what constitutes as a crime. According to Reiman and Leighton, crime is used to label “the dangerous actions of the poor” (5). This is the direct result of the reality of crime that is created by defining what is a crime and “who will be treated as a criminal” (59).
Reiman and Leighton discuss why applying the carnival mirror as a representation for the criminal justice mirror and how it applies to the typical crime and criminal. Throughout this chapter Reiman and Leighton discuss varies reasoning for why there is an indirect relationship between what is and how it is depicted by the American justice. One point I found interesting within this chapter is the characteristic of the typical criminal. As mentioned by Reiman and Leighton, the typical criminal is male, young, urban, black and poor (61).
Furthermore “that blacks are arrested for violent crimes at a rate more than three times that of their percentage in the national population” (61) which was 13% in 2006. This I found to be troubling because as mentioned in class the relationship between the population number and numbers arrested is disproportionate. From this, the authors write that there characteristics of the typical criminal has a lot of offense on arrest because individuals who commit wrongdoings or crimes may not be arrested. They give the example of whites who blame blacks for any crime and they will be believed without question, calling this method ‘racial hoaxes’.
Adding to this is learning that the public losses more money from tax cheating and fraud, consumer deception and embezzlement than from property crime” (64). They write however that these issues do not come up much in the media because of criminal justice mirror that creates that we witness. They explain that the criminal justice mirror does not allow such high cost crimes to be in tin a statistics. This I found to be interesting their point goes back to the pyrrhic defeat explaining that the failure so of the system reaps high benefits for the leaders that its failure is actually a success (65).
Before reading this particular chapter I did not define crime in terms of the specific characteristics that is uniquely the typical criminal. Like me, Reiman and Leighton agree also when they object to several hypotheses from the defenders of the criminal justice system. One of their counterargument I found was the assumption by the defenders that “someone who purposeless tries to harm another is really more evil than someone who harms another without aiming to” (72).
Before reading this chapter, I held the view a crime is a crime and while I understand that individuals can make a mistake, causing someone harm should not garner pity or lax for the punishment because there was no intention to cause harm. Altogether, not a lot of my opinion changed after reading this chapter. Instead, they were reinforced and after this chapter, one can see that the criminal justice mirror does exist as it is created by legislatures. However, it thrives simply because we have accepted the image that is presented.