Socioeconomic status can affect an individual’s vulnerability to becoming a victim, the types of crimes committed, and can even contribute to different experiences within the criminal justice system. Research supports the finding of a strong relationship between victimization and socioeconomic status, and there is indication of a growing disparity since the 1970s, with the poorest groups in America at an increasingly high risk of victimization (Thacher, 2004). In a 2008 national survey, the violent crime rate was over 44 per thousand for people with an annual family income of less than $7,500. This can be compared with a rate of 12.9 per thousand for people with an annual family income of $75,000 or more (U.S. Department of Justice, 2010).
Socioeconomic status is likely to affect the type of crimes to which people are most vulnerable. However, these relationships may be changing. A 1999 study showed that burglary, which targeted the affluent slightly more than the poor in the 1970s, had increased substantially among the poor by 1999. Conversely, homicide, once thought to be much more common among the less affluent, now appears to occur at high income levels (at least among Whites) as frequently as it occurs among those with lower income levels (Levitt, 1999).
In addition to its influence on the level and type of victimization, socioeconomic status may influence the type of experience a victim has with the criminal justice system. As you learned in this week’s Discussion, this is a complex and controversial issue.
For this Assignment, select one of the victims you have previously reviewed in the media. Consider how factors related to the victim’s socioeconomic status may have contributed to the victim’s vulnerability, the type of crime committed, and his or her experience with the criminal justice system.
The Assignment (2–3 pages):
- Identify the victim you selected from the Interactive Community.
- Explain which factors related to socioeconomic status might have contributed to the vulnerability of the victim.
- Explain which factors related to socioeconomic status might have contributed to the type of crime committed against the victim.
- Explain how the victim’s socioeconomic status might have contributed to different experiences with the criminal justice system.