The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison by Jeffrey Reiman

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The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison by Jeffrey Reiman

Jeffrey Reiman, author of The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, first published his book in 1979; it is now in its sixth edition, and he has continued to revise it as he keeps up on criminal justice statistics and other trends in the system. Reiman originally wrote his book after teaching for seven years at the School of Justice (formerly the Center for the Administration of Justice), which is a multidisciplinary, criminal justice education program at American University in Washington, D.C. He drew heavily from what he had learned from his colleagues at that university. Reiman is the William Fraser McDowell Professor of Philosophy at American University, where he has
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The system that emerges is what we have today.

In the chapter, "Crime Control in America," Reiman suggests that the system has been designed to fail. Imprisoning drug offenders, for instance, does nothing to reduce the number of drug offenders in society because they are immediately replaced. The decline in violent crime is more attributable to demographic changes than to enforcement efforts. Most of the decline in crime results from forces beyond the control of the criminal justice systems. Reiman also feels that we could reduce crime if we wanted to do so, and that our excuses are not really answers to the problem, but merely excuses to explain why the system fails. We know the causes of crime—poverty, prison, and drugs—yet we do nothing to change how these things operate, such as banning guns and decriminalizing drugs.

In the chapter, "A Crime by Any Other Name . . . ," Reiman considers how language is used to identify some actions, and he argues that such things as workplace-related deaths that could be prevented should be considered crimes, as well. As far as the criminal justice system is concerned, the face of crime is young, male, poor, and black. Reiman believes that the criminal justice system helps create this reality, projecting a particular image of crime and hiding the larger reality of social injustice and even white-collar crime. They identify crime as a direct, personal assault and ignore many
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