Poverty shares an intimate connection with crime. Although it is true that all criminals are not poor and the poor are not all criminals, it is the likelihood of people living in poverty to commit crimes that brings up the correlation.
The causes and effects of poverty are the determining factors that make poverty often resort to crime. The fact that most white collared crime goes uninvestigated and unprotected is probably one reason why more crime is associated with poverty.
However by stating there is a connection, what we are really saying is that poor people are intrinsically criminal which also suggests that they are inherently poor as well.
The truth is that all of us share equal probability of doing evil. What is it that keeps us from doing evil? Is it our inherent goodness? Is it the lack of reason? Does it have to do with our situation? Perhaps, if we were not enjoying the best of life, and we were desperately needful, we would be driven to committing crime.
If we were hitting rock bottom, with no roof over our heads, no food to eat how would we react? Throw into that equation a bunch of hungry children and loved ones, what would our reaction be then? It is true that there would be a percentage of us who would still manage to stand tall despite the odds, but it’s even truer most of us would succumb to the situation.
A family on the streets can’t survive too long on a diet of morals and it is this hunger that drives poverty to seek solace in crime. The truth is that poverty is not innate, it is mostly situational. The gap between the richest and poorest in our society contributes to this as well. Another debilitating thing about poverty is that it breeds more poverty.
Sometimes despite various efforts made, poverty is passed on from one generation to another and this poverty trap only increases the propensity toward crime. Poverty does not just limit your economic possibilities. It cripples your opportunities and the opportunities you might have envisaged for yourself.
The poor suffer not just economically, but they also suffer from lack of opportunities, lack of education, and lack of health care. They are prey to more violence. It is the classic example of chicken and egg. The incidence of crime is known to rise especially in times of unemployment. Those who might never consider crime might take to it as a means to survive.
The living conditions of the poor especially those living in slums also contribute to the hopelessness and the deprivation these people must feel. The lack of privacy, the overcrowding, the poor sanitation, all contribute to a feeling of wanting to find an escape. It is not about wanting a better life; it about wants to “just, exist with dignity.”
Only the eradication of poverty can bring about radical change. Eradication cannot be done overnight. However, at least an effort must be made. Rehabilitation of the victims of poverty is an issue that needs to be taken more seriously.
Basic needs like food, shelter and sanitation are basic rights and should be provided by the government. The state should make jobs available for the poor. If the dignity of a man is restored, half the battle is won. Counselling centres should be opened to provide counselling to the poor. Sometimes all it takes to survive the odds is, “hope and faith.”