United States of America -the land of opportunity or the land of incarceration? Jessica Gill
Simon Fraser University
301043369, Crim 300, Prof: Barry Cartwright, TA: Adam Vaughan, March 4th 2010 United States of America (USA) is known for having the “American Dream” where everyone lives a happy surreal life. The American dream is difficult to achieve for most, because not everyone is given an equal opportunity to attain the material goods that come with the dream. This leads a person to commit crimes which further gets them into trouble with the law. All countries have their own perspectives on how criminals should be punished, some using retributive punishment while others use restorative justice. The Americans are lacking in thier direction of crime control, and there prison system is not very successful in the sense that incarceration solves all criminal problems. Therefore, Canada should not follow in the footsteps of USA instead they should think of new policies and laws in an effort to decrease their crime rates and their prison populations. American directions in crime control
The American population has fear instilled in them, by media and government outlets, which portray crime to be increasing. It is hard not to believe what is presented by the media and government; therefore, a lot of Americans believe that a major problem in the United States is crime. The public does not realize that the media and politicians are selling what is more appealing to viewers, to get their ratings to increase (Sims, 1997). Mass media outlets and politicians are distorting the view of millions, setting the pretense that crime is escalating. Politicians use the slogan “get tough on crime” as their main platform to lure in more votes. People will vote for the politicians when they believe that they are making their communities safer from the rising crimes rates. The voting public has an influence on punitive policies being made, even though they are unaware of the true crimes rates. They base their knowledge of crime with what they are presented from the media and government, most people do not know how to decrease crime rates or help offenders rehabilitate. With the misguided belief that crime rate are rising this results in policy makers creating tougher laws and sentences being passed. (Pizzaro, Stenius and Platt, 2006). Messner and Rosenfeld believe that the American, capitalist society, put themselves in the position of increased crime rates and conflict. Capitalist society, according to Marxists and Messner and Rosenfeld, see crime being committed because of “social forces outside the control of individuals; they are acting within determined social, political, and economical setting” (Sims, 1997, pg.11). The social force pushing the people is the encouragement to achieve the “American Dream” by any means possible. “[There] are social relationships in a capitalist economic system [which] can produce structural and economic inequalities” (Sims, 1997, pg.11). These inequalities make it harder for those who are in the lower classes to achieve the “American Dream;” since they are forced into a lifestyle of crime to attain these material goods. In the Marxist view, the social environment suffers inequalities which lead to anomie; the anomic society leads to members not following rules set out by institutions, and productions of new delinquent groups. These delinquent groups try every means possible to be seen at an equal level with the upper class, and this might mean involving themselves in criminal activity (Sims, 1997). Americans spend their lives trying to attain material goods; they want to achieve the “American dream. However, not everyone is in the right position to accomplish this dream they are encouraged to look into criminal acts in order to achieve their goal of living the “American dream” (Sims, 1997). This drive to attain material goods, but people having...