Social Adversity, Crime
This section explores Bazelon's argument
about how discrimination and social adversity could form grounds for
mitigating criminal penalties for oppressed minorities. This section
also has resources for Lawson's Crime, Minorities and the Social
The debate over inequality and the
criminal law was most intense during the unrest of the 1970s, and
attention to the topic has greatly diminished, so few internet resources
exist on the topic of the social adversity defense. Michael Tonry's book
Neglect: Race, Crime and Punishment contains a full chapter on
social adversity and the criminal law. He specifically mentions the
exchanges between Judge Bazelon and Stephen Morse in the University of
Southern California Law Review during the mid 1970s as the fullest
discussion of these ideas.
from the Introduction: Contractarian Ethics
BLACK RAGE CONFRONTS THE LAW
The black rage defense is a legal strategy used in criminal cases. It is not a simplistic environmental defense.
The overwhelming majority of African Americans who never commit crimes and who lead productive lives
against overwhelming odds prove that poverty and racial oppression do not necessarily cause an individual to
resort to theft, drugs, and violence. But it cannot be denied that there is a causal connection between
environment and crime. A black rage defense explores that connection in the context of an individual
defendant on trial.
|Let me be a free
man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where
I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the
religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself - and
I will obey every law or submit to the penalty
-Chief Joseph (Nez Perce)
quoted in Russell Means, Where
White Men Fear to Tread
Locke and the Social Contract
Locke (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
This site by the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy gives
biography of John Locke, and summarization of his work “Two Treatises of
Government give more insight into the social contract and its implications for
government. Also discussed is the
context in which the work was written.
of The Second Treatise of Government by Locke
Digitized by Dave Gowan.
Locke (1632-1704), The Philosopher of Freedom. This site gives links to many issues of interest concerning
Locke, including views on human nature, idealists, materialists and dualists, tabula
rosa, empiricism, Locke’s views on government, Pre-Social man, Raison
d’etre of government, the extent of government power, the ends of government,
the taxing power of government, and revolution
More Thoughts on Inequality
Should the Tax System Redistribute the Wealth?
Despite a Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor, U.S. Is Ambivalent (washington
Post) Americans have always been uncomfortable with the question and ambivalent about most of the answers. Although the Declaration of Independence gave eloquent
voice to national aspirations toward equality, it took an amendment to give the federal government the power to impose an income tax. And while most Americans
believe that the rich don't pay their fair share of the income tax burden, when asked to sketch out what they thought would be a fairer system, they came up with one
that almost exactly mirrors the existing U.S. tax code.
The Rich (Still) Get Richer…: Understanding Ideology,
Outrage and Economic Bias
Short talk given by Jeffrey Reiman at an American
Society of Criminology panel marking 25 years of his book The Rich Get Richer
& the Poor Get Prison being in print.