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Recession, Crime and Punishment

NCJ Number
S Box
Date Published
244 pages
In this book, the author examines cross-sectional and longitudinal British and U.S. studies that have explored the relationship of unemployment and income inequality to crime and imprisonment.
After a theoretical review of people's motivations for breaking the law, relevant empirical studies are examined. Among these are time-series and cross-sectional studies, which manipulated aggregate data to determine whether there is an empirical relationship exists between unemployment and crime or income inequality and crime, and longitudinal research, which examined the relationship between unemployment and crime based on individual experiences. The research to date indicates an apparent strong relationship between income inequality and criminal activity. The relationship between overall unemployment and crime, however, is inconsistent. On balance, other American and British studies indicate that a person's employment status influences police decisions to apprehend, arrest, and prosecute. It also shapes probation officers' sentence recommendations and the type and severity of sentence. Thus, although the relationship between crime and unemployment is inconsistent, a significant relationship exists between the unemployment rate and the imprisonment rate because of the tendency of criminal justice personnel to deal more harshly with unemployed persons. Policy implications are drawn from the findings. Chapter tables and figures and 350-item bibliography.