Many of the busts in the ghetto are drug-related, and Hilfiker notes that our society punishes petty drug offences far more severely than crimes committed by people who are wealthy. Meantime, the mandatory minimum sentence takes away the possibility of any plea bargaining; it takes away the judges previous alternative of giving probation for a petty crime and hands the power to the prosecutor, who runs for office on a “law and order” theme.
“Deserving” poor vs. “Undeserving” poor:
It has been customary in America for society to attempt to separate the “undeserving” poor from the “deserving” poor. The deserving poor are those who have supposedly found themselves down on their luck through no fault of their own; while the undeserving are reportedly “lazy” and likely on some government assistance program (Hilfiker, pp. 69-71).
As a token offer of help to the very poor the government makes “TANF” benefits available albeit they are “so low that no one could survive on them,” the author explains (p. 71).
Imagine a family of three, unemployed and eking out a living, trying to get by on $164 a month. Thats the unfortunate, unfair reality for those trapped in abject poverty. They may have no choice but to apply for TANF help. They are locked into a system that is loaded with “social and historical structures.” This paper agrees wholeheartedly with Hilfiker when he writes (p. 128) that “Justice demands that the conditions in our inner cities be changed.” This paper also embraces Hilfikers quote.