Crime and Poverty

End Poverty to Stop Crime. Credits to for the image

Like poverty, crime is a social phenomenon. It affects a substantial segment of the population and inflicts damage to the morale of the people. By taking into consideration how crime becomes directly proportionate with the poverty rate in a given neighborhood or community (Becker, 2001), one could thus assume that aside from the obvious relationship of both problems, crime stems from the pitfalls of poverty: those left with bitter survival options resort to property crimes, and those who commit the worst crimes imaginable might be due to the desperate situations some people find themselves in.

By taking into account the basic requisites for survival, poverty undeniably pushes a person to desperation, hopelessness and apathy. By being hopeless, one becomes alienated with the given set of social expectations and resorts to trying to fulfill one’s needs at all cost. Survival – being the primary consideration, must be effected at all cost. How could one try to find the logic in the moral backwardness of stealing when one sees his/ her children starving? How could one try to find rationality in obeying the law when in doing such, one condemns himself/ herself and his/ her family to a life of lowly aspirations – of perpetual struggling to make both ends meet, of falling in line to the mercies of welfare and other people, of working 12 hours a day in the streets, obtaining nothing but a few dollars so the family could have something decent to eat in the evenings?

Individual responsibility, however, runs contrary to this statement. By placing crime within a larger social construct, the notion of free will is undermined. A person – no matter how poor s/he might be is gifted with the similar capacity to work hard and do his/ her best to elevate his/ her situation. Yet though this may be the case, sufficient evidences thrive on stating that while the capacities are similar, the conditions afforded by the society are not necessarily equal to people of diverse social status. Public and private hospitals, public and private education, and subtle segregationist policies were all monuments of these blatant differences. So while character development might be a significant intervention for crime prevention, poverty alleviation is certainly as important.


Becker, Gary S. (2001). “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach. Journal of Political Economy: 169-217. Accessed 02 April 2010 from

Dantzker, M.L. & Hunter, Ronald D. (2006). Research Methods for Criminology and Criminal Justice: A Primer. Ontario: Jones and Bartlett Publishers

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