Race, Class And Gender Play

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The intersectionality of race, class and gender play an important role in the way we address the causes of crime and the way we respond to such crimes. To avoid marginalizing the most vulnerable of our populations, those with a low socioeconomic status, primarily of the minority races, we must account for the social designations when designing policy and dealing with the crime problem. Aside from race, as described thoroughly by Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow, gender and low socioeconomic status are to be considered.
Alexander does an incredible job of covering the issue of race in today’s criminal justice system. We discussed in class that it is a relatively difficult issue to discuss and a sore point of our country, but she recognized the need for it to be addressed from start to finish and really paints a picture of how racially biased the laws are and have been since the days of slavery. I think an important framework to discuss race and the causes and responses to crime is something that Alexander deems the new caste system. She argues that our new system is the rebirth of a redesigned caste system. In her introduction, she notes that “to put the matter starkly: the current system of control permanently locks a huge percentage of the African American community out of the mainstream society and economy. The system operates through our criminal justice institutions, but it functions more like a caste system than a system of crime control” (Alexander, 2012, p. 13)
Alexander makes an important distinction in this book, too. That is that criminals are the new version of slaves for our country – but they are the black male criminals, not all criminals. The structural racism designed to relegate the black popula...

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...ere taken in the initial discussions of getting tough on crime in the late 1960s and early 1970s: the conservative side which argued that “poverty was caused not by structural factors related to race and class but rather by culture – particularly black culture” and the liberal side which argued that “social reforms such as the War on Poverty and civil rights legislation would get at the root causes of criminal behavior and stressed the social conditions that predictably generate crime” (Alexander, 2012, p. 45). The liberals were definitely onto something. The process by which we address crime must account for the intersectionality of our country relative to crime. We must respond by shaping our legal framework around a system that is not racially biased, that takes care of the poor and that accounts for gender differences that largely separate males and females.