Sunday, December 07, 2008

Criminalization of Poverty in Capitalist America

Writing from the mid-90’s, even more crucial today, especially in Berrien County. Exerpts.

An anonymous poet (1700's) on crime: "The law will punish a man or woman who steals the goose from the hillside, but lets the greater robber loose who steals the hillside from the goose."
From 3/12/93 Wall Street Journal article, "Common Criminals--Just About Everyone Violates Some Laws, Even Model Citizens" byline by Stephen J. Adler/Wade Lambert stated: We are a nation of lawbreakers. We exaggerate tax-deductible expenses, lie to customs officials, bet on card games and sports events, disregard jury notices, drive while intoxicated--and hire illegal childcare workers. [not to mention convict and incarcerate innocent people or steal lakefront property from residents of a city]
Crime is big Business
...political decisions of bankers are about who will be poor. Corporate decisions in '50s to remove industry from communities of color were about who would be unemployed. Decisions by developers/bankers about redevelopment (redlining & gentrification) are about who will be homeless.
In 1984 American Catholic bishops called poverty in America a "social and moral scandal that must not be ignored," "works of charity cannot and should not have to substitute for humane public policy. The Physicians Task Force on Hunger in America reported on a 2-year national study: despite 58 months of economic expansion, hunger became more widespread(affecting some 20 million Americans), largely because of "governmental failure."
Hunger/homelessness are deliberately imposed socioeconomic get richer, while the poor get prison and early death...board rooms/White House are social policy makers who increase social repression by building more prisons, creating harsher legal sanctions (i.e., 52 death penalty laws, three strikes you're out), and becoming ever more heedless to the social implications of poverty as an impetus to committing crime.
...crime pays. The U. S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics announced on 7/15/90: federal, state & local gov. spent $61 billion for civil and criminal justice in ‘88, a 34% increase since ‘85.
Annually, laws are changed to ensure profitability in the crime industry. Social conditions serve to maintain levels of poverty and feed the industry of crime.