There are a huge variety of ways in which society can contribute to criminality, from the banal to the slightly more ridiculous. Anything from a lack of positive support and attention to growing up in poverty is something which can trigger criminality, and these are both situations which are caused by society. Added to that is the way in which the U.S. handles crime overall – they have the highest number of incarcerated people per thousand than anywhere else in the western world.
All of this combines to ensure that society, in a huge number of ways, helps with, if not encouraging at least clearing the way for, criminality and criminal behaviour, although in different ways.
The U.S. is known throughout the world for its strict policies surrounding the judicial system and its aftermath. Aside from the issues surrounding its propensity to throw people into jail with punitive sentences for offences which are otherwise fairly minor, the system also prevents ex-convicts from obtaining certain types of jobs and houses when they are out of jail.
While there are reasons for the judicial system to act the way it does, the net effect of the restrictions placed on people is to further encourage them into crime. If someone cannot find a legitimate job (and yet still needs to earn money, as we all do), then he or she is much more likely to turn to crime to provide that needed income. Society wants to reduce the number of criminals and the amount of crime which is happening, but instead of taking logical steps and trying to make it easier for people to genuinely make changes and live legally, they are making it more and more difficult to do so, and punishing any attempts along the way.
Poverty is another problem which society creates, which then leads to criminality. The connection between being unable to restart your life after being in prison, and then resulting poverty, is very clear – if someone can only scrape by, or can find no means of income at all, then they will live in poverty.
Poverty itself limits people’s abilities in a huge number of ways, most of which go under the radar. Having no money limits where you can stay, what you can eat, your entertainment choices, where you and your children can educate themselves, and much more. Being in poverty, with everything that comes with that, is something which can push people into criminality, because being a criminal offers a better life, and a better life for the people around you. Especially in areas where generational poverty has made itself known, such as areas where there was formerly a manufacturing plant of some sort, which has now gone. If society leaves no other option, people may well turn to crime.
Finally, not having any positive attention is something which can sometimes lead to criminal behaviour. While society can have no effect on the way in which a family works, positive attention can also come from education – if a school is not interested in rewarding students for working hard, for praising them, then students may very well look elsewhere for that praise and attention. To children, attention is good – if they cannot get positive attention, then they will likely settle for negative attention, so long as somebody is looking at them.
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