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NCJ Number: 136742 Find in a Library
Title: Who Is in Jail? An Examination of the Rabble Hypothesis
Journal: Crime and Delinquency  Volume:38  Issue:2  Dated:(April 1992)  Pages:219-229
Author(s): J A Backstrand; D C Gibbons; J F Jones
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 11
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In his book "The Jail," John Irwin maintains that the majority of persons who are incarcerated in U.S. jails are drawn from the underclass or alienated segments of society. These people are in jail, not because they have committed serious crimes, but because they are perceived to be undesirable by the police and the larger community.
Abstract: Irwin argues that the use of jails as a tool to manage the underclass exacerbates the problems of living encountered by what he terms the "rabble." Using data from an Oregon and a Washington county jail system, this study analyzed two working hypotheses: that larger number of both booked suspects and convicted serious offenders are in jail than Irwin indicated and that relatively larger percentages of serious offenders would be found in urban rather than in rural jails. Although the data used in this research was limited in several ways, it did indicate that offense seriousness, rather than offensiveness, was the major determinant of serving time in jail and in being classified as a serious offender. However, the data did not address the extent to which discriminatory law enforcement is practiced against members of the rabble. The authors agree with Irwin that the criminal justice system ought to pursue policies of decriminalization, diversion, expansion of pretrial release, humane incarceration, and sentencing alternatives. 2 tables, 2 notes, and 9 references (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Class discrimination; Pretrial detention
Index Term(s): Crime seriousness measures; Jail statistics; Oregon; Police attitudes; Rural urban comparisons; Washington
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