ending poverty to end crime

Ending Poverty to End Crime

In 1995, approximately 13.8 percent of the United States population was
living below the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) poverty standard.
Many of those that do live below the poverty standard are given some form of
assistance, be it monetary or otherwise yet, the amount of money given often
results in resource deprivation. For example, in 1995, the daily amount of
assistance given to a person on welfare for food was $3.66. This is barely
enough to live off of for a short period of time, let alone long periods of time
(Cochran et al. 209). For years, people have debated as to whether or not
neighborhoods that had high percentages of people living in resource deprivation
cause higher crime rates. It has been proven that there is indeed a direct link
between living in poverty and the crime rate of the neighborhood. Its is for
this reason, that the current methods of assigning the amount of aid given to
welfare recipients must be adjusted to lower crime rates.

Whether or not simply increasing the amount of aid given will decrease crime
rates, is still of much debate. In the results of a study conducted by Judith
and Peter Blau, socioeconomic inequality was stated to be the reason for the
higher crime rates in large metropolitan areas. They claim that it is actually
the income differences shown between social classes that leads to tension
between the classes which results in the higher crime rates. They claim that
whether or not families live in resource deprivation, there will always be a
continuously higher crime rate. (Blau, 122). Most are opposed to this view
however, and think that the simple alleviation of resource deprivation will
adequately lower crime rates.

The primary reason for a belief in the need for the adjustment of the current
methods or assigning aid given to welfare recipients, is the results of the
research done by Hanon and Defranzo. Hannon and Defronzo’s research was an
attempt to determine whether or not there is a direct link between poverty and
crime. They did this by analyzing data of large metropolitan counties. The
counties were selected based primarily on three criteria. The first was that the
county had to have a resident population of 100,000 people or more. The second
criterion was that the county be designated by the census as being a
metropolitan area. The third criterion was that the county had available records
of crime activity in the area. The results found that many of the statistics,
which were reported by the Blau’s to have no apparent effect on crime rates,
actually did affect the rates. Unemployment and the percentage of women in the
labor force were found to have a positive relationship on the crime rates
although only for non-violent crimes. In simpler terms, the article states that
when there is adequate welfare support in the amount that will somewhat diminish
the amount of resource deprivation, the crime rates will indeed show to be not
affected by poverty rates. The rates showed that the poorest neighborhoods had
the highest rate of crime. The study also showed that those receiving the same
amount of aid in one area could have significantly higher or lower rates of
crime due to the fact that there are no cost of living adjustments(388).

With the results showing the direct link between resource deprivation and
crime rates, it would appear apparent to most people that there is a definite
need for welfare reform. However, the United States government has not taken any
steps to alleviate the deprivation in the impoverished areas. No cost of living
adjustment is scheduled to be implemented into the governments welfare policy
any time soon, and until then the crime rates will remain high. Hanon and
Defranzo’s research shows that if you alleviate the resource deprivation by
including cost of living adjustments in the amount of aid received by welfare
recipients, you will lower the rate of crime in the area to which the cost of
living adjustment it applied. Until the time comes that the government includes
these adjustments rates of crime will not lower in the cities no matter what
amount of crime prevention is implemented.

Works Cited

Blau, Judith and Peter Blau. “The Cost of Inequality:

Metropolitan Structure And Violent

Crime”. JSTOR.org. January 2001. 10 February 2001




Cochran, Clarke E., et al. American Public Policy: An

Introduction. 6th ed. New York:

Worth Publishers. 1999: 207-210.

Hannon, Lance and James Defronzo. “The Truly Disadvantaged,

Public Assistance, and Crime.” Social Problems Vol.45

No. 3 August (1998) : 383- 388 390-391.

Category: Social Issues