Social Inequality and Imprisonment in America
Social inequality expressed in the unfair distribution of per capita income may be considered one of the main reasons why the United States is the leading country concerning the number of prisoners. According to Leopold, this phenomenon began to manifest itself in the 1980s, when the wage gap in the state became perceptible. However, one should also take into account social implications, in particular, the low standard of many citizens’ living. In this regard, the criminal sentiment prevailing in society has reached its maximum and led to the fact that the United States has acquired the status of the country with the largest number of prisoners. In addition, social inequality expressed in racial bias explains the higher percentage of fines extracted from local residents of color compared to that of white citizens. Therefore, the aspect of equality is relevant as an explanation of the criminal situation in the state.
Gentrification, as an approach that aims to equip individual urban areas to meet the needs of the middle-class population, can also be viewed from the perspective of a factor driving a large number of detentions. Attempts to move potentially disadvantaged citizens away from law-abiding residents lead to the discontent of the latter category and, consequently, more arrests. Leopold notes an increase in police spending and tax collection growth as the natural outcomes of this regime. This, in turn, leads to the fact that imprisonment has become one of the methods of manipulating the budget, which is unacceptable in a legal and democratic state. Thus, the prison has become one of the tools in the management of the economy, and this principle indicates that there is no attempt to overcome social inequality.