How should the criminal justice system address the disproportionate number of poor people who are punished for crime? The answer depends on the nature of the relationship both between poverty and crime and between criminal punishment and social justice. Crimes committed by poor parents often involve three types of associations between indigence and crime: these crimes may be caused by parental poverty, detected because of parental poverty, or defined by parental poverty. Scholarly debate on this issue has focused on the claim that deprivation provides an excuse for crime because it impairs moral responsibility for criminal conduct. Crime, punishment, and poverty are connected in other ways, as well, and these connections also have implications for the culpability of indigent offenders. In this essay, I consider the associations between poverty and the crimes of child abuse and neglect to explore the ethics of punishing indigent lawbreakers and to evaluate approaches to the relationship between poverty and criminal justice. Punishing indigent parents reflects a deep bias in the detection and definition of child maltreatment, and helps to absolve lawmakers of responsibility for eradicating conditions of poverty that harm children.
In order to set up a list of libraries that you have access to,
you must first login
or sign up.
Then set up a personal list of libraries from your profile page by
clicking on your user name at the top right of any screen.