The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison

Ideology, Class, and Criminal Justice

About the Course:

This book examines the premise that the criminal justice system is biased against the poor from start to finish: from the definition of what constitutes a crime through the process of arrest, trial, and sentencing. The author argues that actions of well-off people, such as refusal to make workplaces safe, refusal to curtail deadly pollution, promotion of unnecessary surgery, and prescriptions for unnecessary drugs, cause occupational and environmental hazards to innocent members of the public and produce just as much death, destruction, and financial loss as so-called crimes of the poor. However, these acts of the well-off are rarely treated as crimes, and when they are, they are never treated as severely as crimes of the poor.


Allyn and Bacon

Publication Date:

2007/8th Edition


Jeffrey Reiman, Ph.D.

About the Author:

Jeffrey Reiman is the Professor of Philosophy at American University in Washington, D.C. He was a Fulbright Scholar in India during 1966-67. He joined the American University faculty in 1970, in the Center for the Administration of Justice (now called the Department of Justice, Law and Society of the School of Public Affairs). After several years of holding a joint appointment in the Justice program and the Department of Philosophy and Religion, Dr. Reiman joined the Department of Philosophy and Religion in 1988, becoming Director of the Master’s Program in Philosophy and Social Policy.

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for health care professionals, especially addiction counselors, psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers, and nurses who seek knowledge about ideology, class, and criminal justice. It is appropriate for all levels of participants’ knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Describe reasons for the failure of the war on crime and possible ways it could be more effectively waged.

  2. Recognize how the criminal justice system fails to protect us against many objective dangers.

  3. Demonstrate the inequity of the criminal justice system in its way of dealing with street crimes in contrast to white collar and corporate crimes.

  4. Identify how the criminal justice system creates the image that crime is almost exclusively the work of the poor, thereby, benefiting the interests of those with power.

Exam Questions

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