Jail ways why it is misleading: “The variety

Jail has little to do with the serious crime. Most of the people in jail are not charged with serious crime, but with petty crime.

Basically, they are held there because they are considered “offensive”. An interview of 100 random felony arrest and 100 misdemeanor arrests within 24 hours of arrest was to determine these conclusions. These people were questioned about a variety of things; recent activities, background, their arrest, and their behavior that led to their arrest. The only charges that fit what a “dangerous criminal” would be was: 14 burglaries, 12 assaults, 10 grand theft, 4 armed robberies, 2 rapes, and 1 murder.

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These were only the charges made by the arresting officers. So, it is hard to determine the amount of seriousness. The book tells us three ways why it is misleading: “The variety of acts that fall within a crime category is great, the police often charge persons with crime much more serious than their actual behavior warrant, and sometimes the charges are totally fabricated.” It was then determined, from about 11 students, the level of seriousness of all the crimes that were stated in the interviews. If it involved small amounts of money and no one got hurt, it was labeled as a petty crime. If it involved large amounts of money, breaking into someone’s home, or using strong drugs, then it was labeled as a medium crime. Lastly, if the crime involves someone getting hurt or injured, then it was labeled as a serious crime.

When all the crimes had been marked on a “scale of seriousness”, the majority of felony arrests were in the petty crime category. Based on this, it was concluded that the offensiveness of the act was more important than how severe the crime is. There are three levels of offensiveness: mild, moderate, and high. Mild offensiveness is when a disreputable person is showing deviant behavior, has a lack of respect, or they are in a place they “don’t belong”. Moderate is when a disreputable person is in a place they don’t belong and commit a crime, injures another disreputable person, or fights the police. Lastly, high offensiveness is when a disreputable person commits a crime against another person who is considered reputable. There are many different types of disreputable. This is characteristics that make a “type” of person.

Out of the 100 felony arrest, there were 10 “types”: petty hustlers (disreputable for stealing and/or conning to make a living), derelicts (disreputable for being street alcoholics), junkies (disreputable for being addicts), outlaws (disreputable for having an outlaw identity and perspective), crazies (disreputable for being mentally ill), corner boys (disreputable for being lower class and hanging around other lower class), lowriders (disreputable because of their public activities and behavioral style), aliens (disreputable for being immigrants and speaking a different language), gays (disreputable because of their sexual preference and lifestyle), and square johns (reputable people that commit crimes such as grand theft, forgery, murder, or possession of drugs). It is concluded, that the people who fill up jails are members of the “rabble” class or those that are disreputable: derelicts, crazies, petty hustlers, and outlaws.


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