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What are the underlying reasons for the demographic differences (such as race, class, gender, and education) that exist between white collar and conventional crime offenders?
There is a significant difference between conventional and white collar crimes since the two are perpetrated by different categories of people and occur in different environment. The white collar offenses involve people who are high in the social ranking and occurs in the corporate world. They are difficult to detect because they involve anonymity, are indirect and impersonal (Barak, Leighton & Flavin, 2010). On the contrary, conventional or blue collar crimes are associated with people of low ranking in the society. These crimes are easy to detect because they involve some violence and direct physical activities (National Research Council, 2014). It includes crimes such as assault, dislocation of property, etc. Although white collar crimes have greater economic consequences than blue collar crimes, most emphasis has been on blue collar crimes resulting in several consequences to the offenders and higher conviction rate of offenders of conventional crimes compared with white collar offenses.
Both conventional and white collar crimes involve various types of crimes and criminals. The conventional crimes include crimes of murder, burglary, rape, robbery, assault, etc. (Watt, 2012). On the other hand, white collar crimes involve the corporate and occupational offenses such as cyber crimes, frauds and entrepreneurial undertakings (Barak, Leighton & Flavin, 2010). The two types of crimes are associated with particular groups of offenders and the environment in which they occur.
The white collar offenders are people with high profile careers and high level of education. They are people from the stable family background and have good business connections. They are idealists who want to fit in a particular social class or what to have influence in the society (Green & Kugler, 2012). These ambitions lure them into joining cartels or syndicates of other like-minded people and consequently engage in the offenses. This implies white collar offenders are people with high-quality education that enables them to get opportunities in the corporate world (National Research Council, 2014). On the other hand, blue collar offenses are associated with poor people with low or no education at all. There is no special expertise required to comment crimes of violence or take people’s property hence the offenders lack better education.
The offenders of conventional crimes are mainly from the lower poor class of the society. Nevertheless, some people perceive this class of offenders as being displayed by the society’s reaction to the undertakings of the lower and poor class of the society and not that poor people have the inclination to engage in illegal activities of this magnitude (Ismaili, 2015). For instance, in most cases, the offenders of crimes of theft and burglary are from the poor lower class of the society. On the other hand, most of the white collar offenders are people who are well-off in the society mainly the upper class. Those involved in the management of corporations or senior employees have been implicated for involvement in white collar offenses such as embezzlement of funds, bribery and tax evasion (Zaplin, 2008). White collar offenses are associated with particular values and attitudes of the cultures in the society hence they are perpetrated by successful, stable and intelligent people with a high ranking in the society.
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African Americans are the majority offenders of conventional offenses while the most of the white collar offenders are the white Americans. The reasoning behind increased involvement of black Americans in blue collar offense could be associated with racial discrimination (Green & Kugler, 2012). Most of the arrests are made by white police officers and the suspects are Black Americans. In most cases Black Americans are perceived as criminals and violent in nature hence they are likely to engage in crime than the White Americans (Payne, 2012). Consequently, there are more arrests and incarcerations of the Black Americans compared with White Americans. Therefore, racial discrimination is the likely cause of higher rates of incarceration of Black Americans for conventional crimes than their white counterparts.
According to Barak, Leighton and Flavin (2010), Gender is another factor associated with particular crimes. For instance, less that 20 percent of conventional offenders are female convicts while the white collar female offenders are a bit higher. However, some studies have indicated that the actual number of female offenders of conventional crimes could be underrepresented. Although the statistics differ slightly for white and blue collar offenses it is clear that in both cases there are more male offenders than female offenders. The cause of low female underrepresentation could be attributed to the weak procedure of arresting the offenders because in most cases male is easily suspected leading to higher arrest than male offenders. Also, there is a large number of male workers in corporations, and those have an occupation outside their homes are male thus contributing to higher male offenders of white collar crimes (Ismaili, 2015). This could be because most of the female employees rarely engage in crime groups which are the main characteristic of white collar crimes. Also, women mainly lack the courage to engage in crimes as individuals. The studies have shown that majority of the arrested offenders of both conventional and white collar crimes are male with the crimes perpetrated by female offenders constituting about 20 percent of the total offenses.
The offenders of conventional crimes are young people while the perpetrators of white collar crimes are both middle-aged and older people. According to Friedrichs (2009), more than 65 percent of the offenders convicted of conventional crimes are aged below 25 years. In most cases, young people are unemployed and lack a stable source of income hence they are likely to be suspected, investigated, arrested and convicted for associating with blue collar crimes while the older people are already working hence the high probability of being associated with white collar crimes.
White collar crimes involves high-tech crimes committed by persons of high profile people such as corporate entrepreneurs, corporate executive’s physicians, specialists in information technology etc. those people are involved in crimes such as shortchanging customers, cybercrimes, free release of goods, embezzling of employers resources, etc. (Friedrichs, 2009). Since these crimes involve people who are well established in the organizations or businesses, it becomes apparent that such people have advanced in age majority who are middle-aged and older.
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In conclusion, white collar crimes are different from blue collar crimes which involve the use of different policy interventions. White collar crimes are associated with people who are in the corporate world and well placed in the society while blue collar crimes are associated with people of low social status. While demographic factors may not cause significant differences in the two types of crimes, there are other factors that could lead to their differences. For instance, the reporting pattern of the law of enforcing officers and perceptions, values and attitudes establish significant differences in the type of people involved each type of crime.
- Barak, G., Leighton, P. & Flavin, J. (2010). Class, Race, Gender, and Crime: The Social Realities of Justice in America, 3rd Ed. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers,
- Friedrichs, D. O. (2009). Trusted Criminals: White Collar Crime In Contemporary Society, 4th Ed65. United States: Cengage Learning.
- Green, S. P. & Kugler, M.B. (2012). Public Perceptions of White Collar Crime Culpability: Bribery, Perjury, and Fraud: LAW AND CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS, Vol. 75 (2). Retrieved from; http://home.uchicago.edu/~mkugler/Published%20and%20Finalized%20Papers/Green%20&%20Kugler,%202012%20-%20White%20Collar%20Crime.pdf
- Ismaili, K. (Ed) (2015). U.S. Criminal Justice Policy, 2nd Ed. USA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
- National Research Council, (2014). The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences. USA: National Academies Press.
- Payne, B.K. (2012). White-Collar Crime: The Essentials: The Essentials. United States: SAGE.
- Watt, R. (2012). University students’ propensity towards white-collar versus street crime. Open Journal Systems, Vol. 5(2). Retrieved from; https://journal.lib.uoguelph.ca/index.php/surg/article/view/1570/2397
- Zaplin, R. T. (2008). Female Offenders: Critical Perspectives and Effective Interventions, 2nd Ed. United States: Jones & Bartlett Learning.