Mimetic Rivalry In Criminal Justice Essay

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Before the start of this class, I knew three things about the criminal justice system that are fact: many people break the law, some get caught, and even less goes to jail. It is what I did not know that presented itself to me during this course. Yes, people commit crimes daily, but why do they when they know that they could get in trouble? Yes, when you break the law there is a possibility that you could get caught, but why does it seem like it’s always minorities who are the ones who get arrested? Yes, if you do the crime, you do the time, but are there other way’s to punish someone without ruining the rest of his or her life? I have learned that the current cycle of mimetic rivalry, shame, and violence creates a large number of repeat players …show more content…
The simple answer to that question is shame. Shame, according to James Gilligan, is “the emotion people feel when they are not recognized, or respected” (Gilligan, Shame and Death of Self 32). Since respect is highly sought after in the streets, a set of informal rules of behavior governs the way people treat each other (Gilligan, Shame and Death of Self 34). Shame can result from jealousy of someone else. This is where mimetic rivalry comes into play. When someone is jealous of someone else, they will stop at nothing to gain what the other person has, or even obtain more than the other. When there is a feeling of rejection caused by the lack of having what others may have, a person may loose a sense of respect from himself. Gilligan says, “When people lack self-respect…[they feel that] they are incapable of eliciting respect from others in the form of admiration for their achievements or their personalities…” (Gilligan, Shame and Death of Self 36). Shame stems from a lack of respect, either by others, or by oneself. In mimetic rivalry, when two people are competing for a mutually desired goal, they will do anything to reach that goal; this is because the shame that would result from loosing is greater than the possible repercussions from the obstacles hey put in their opponent’s way. …show more content…
Now that I am older, however, I have learned why I was brought up with this mindset. In white suburbia, minorities are looked at as the undesirables of society, or what John Irwin calls the “rabble”. To clarify, rabble refers to “the ‘disorganized’ and ‘disorderly’, [and or] the ‘lowest class of people’” (Irwin 2). Irwin believes that the jail was invented to control and regulate the rabble population of society (Irwin 2). Once a person is let out of jail, they are thrown back into the streets and told to fend for themselves. Many of these people end up where they started, in the poorest neighborhoods in the city. It is in these neighborhoods that police presence is heavily found. Irwin claims, “The deviant ghettos are rigorously patrolled. And the primary purpose of this activity is not to enforce the law but rather to keep the peace—which largely means managing the rabble” (Irwin 10). By patrolling the ghettos, police are more likely to witness a repeat player attempting to regain control over his lost respect, and therefor are more likely to arrest him. The problem with this is that “most of the rabble commit petty crimes, such as drinking on the street…” (Irwin 2). Due to the notion of controlling the rabble “—or ‘the dangerous classes’” (Irwin 8), police officers have been trained in “peacekeeping” techniques that are used when

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