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Crime And Punishment

             The crime problem in the United States has historically been misstated and exaggerated by bureaucrats and politicians. The intentions behind these overstatements vary within each context but a common thread emerges upon closer examination. As in any capitalist society, money and material possession are the primary motivation that fuels society and people. .
             It could be argued that FBI director Louis Freeh made his comments to the National Press Club in 1994 out of genuine concern for the American people, but realistically the statement was made in an effort to gather support and increase funding for law enforcement. Following this statement and from increased pressure from politicians, the Federal Crime Bill was ratified, and authorized the spending of thirty billion dollars, primarily towards more police officers and prisons. It also included many new punitive sanctions and the expansion of the death penalty to more than fifty federal crimes. Louis Freeh's politically correct and unapprised proclamation takes an exceptionally narrow view of crime and its curtailment. Freeh chooses to focus on the media, statistics, and ultimately public opinion as his justification for increased funding. However he fails to realize the influence of the media and statistics in molding public opinion and the difference between public opinion and reality. Existing individualistic theories such as rational choice theory help reinforce Freeh's statement. .
             The overstated crime problem, backed by a capitalistic media and misinterpreted statistics has created a punitive crime policy, which is further supported by individualistic theories of crime. In this paper I will show how misreported statistics and media focus on violent crimes shapes public opinion. Then I will go on to demonstrate the role of individualistic theories in supporting punitive crime control policies. Ultimately I look to prove that the actions of the media and politicians are centered on money and how crime is inherent to the American Dream.

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