Event Title

A Genealogy of the Criminalization of Poverty In America

Session Title

Crime

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor

Hye-sung Kim, Ph.D., and Michael Lipscomb, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Political Science

Description

This research aims to address the evolution of power structures as they relate to opinions and policies surrounding poverty in the United States. The analysis focuses on welfare policy, privatization of penal systems, and so-called quality of life offenses. The time frame of this analysis begins in the seventeenth century; however, the focus is primarily later nineteenth century forward. Arguably, in order to understand contemporary issues surrounding poverty policy and the treatment of the indigent, one must first understand the economic, political, and social conditions from which those policies have developed. Examining welfare policy over time illuminates ideologies that shaped the conceptualization of poverty, as well as how through surveillance the welfare system became intertwined with the legal system. In understanding the privatization of penal systems, it becomes clear that criminalization of the poor relieves burdens on the State while allowing for the creation of a pernicious profit system for wealthy individuals. Quality of life violations transform the racist roots of private penal systems into modern day classist systems of oppression that benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor. This genealogical approach elucidates the persistence of class- and race-based systems of oppression and how they continue to profit private industries through disproportionate application of legal penalties against the indigent.

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

A Genealogy of the Criminalization of Poverty In America

This research aims to address the evolution of power structures as they relate to opinions and policies surrounding poverty in the United States. The analysis focuses on welfare policy, privatization of penal systems, and so-called quality of life offenses. The time frame of this analysis begins in the seventeenth century; however, the focus is primarily later nineteenth century forward. Arguably, in order to understand contemporary issues surrounding poverty policy and the treatment of the indigent, one must first understand the economic, political, and social conditions from which those policies have developed. Examining welfare policy over time illuminates ideologies that shaped the conceptualization of poverty, as well as how through surveillance the welfare system became intertwined with the legal system. In understanding the privatization of penal systems, it becomes clear that criminalization of the poor relieves burdens on the State while allowing for the creation of a pernicious profit system for wealthy individuals. Quality of life violations transform the racist roots of private penal systems into modern day classist systems of oppression that benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor. This genealogical approach elucidates the persistence of class- and race-based systems of oppression and how they continue to profit private industries through disproportionate application of legal penalties against the indigent.