Criminal versus lawbreaker (Online Writing)

Published October 16, 2014 by djlwsu

What is the difference between a “criminal” and a “lawbreaker.”  Make sure to integrate specifics from readings, course materials, and course films, reflecting on how race and class shape these differences.  Finally, what are the costs and consequences to these different stigmas 350-400 words Last day to participate November 5, 2014


8 comments on “Criminal versus lawbreaker (Online Writing)

  • In my view, the criminal justice system today is basically a factory for destroying individual’s lives. Once you get sucked into any type of criminal sentence the process and repercussions that come afterwards are so harsh and devastating it makes it very difficult for any individual to go back to a single life. The biggest problem I see is the 100:1 rule of cocaine vs. crack cocaine. Based on principals the rule is not fair at all. These promote racial stereotyping and harsh sentences basically destroy any chance of future education, public housing, and finding a job. All individuals that are convicted as a felon are required to check a box on most if not all job applications stating their convictions. Patrons claim that this has no factor in the hiring process for individuals but anyone can agree that is not the case. The difference between a criminal and a law breaker is quite drastic. For example, the law breaker would be an individual that in desperate times would speed to school because he’s late for something. In an extreme case and individual would sell drugs for example on the side briefly in order to pay something off or pay rent. The difference is when that individual gets caught. When you get caught speeding you simply get a speeding ticket, pay the fine and you’re on your way. When you get caught for selling cocaine for example, you are sentenced to a certain amount of time and are then a convicted felon. The only problem now is because of all the rules as a convicted felon you are stripped of many privileges that non felons have. Once he is released and is on probation he will apply for housing and will be denied. He wants to continue to go to school and applies for loans and is once again denied. You are forced on the streets and then you know longer have a choice but to resort back to what you got there in the first place. This is in an extreme case but it more than likely happens more than not.


  • A criminal and a lawbreaker are two very different aspects containing someone who is breaking the law/being charged. A criminal is part of the criminal justice system, a person who has been taken to court or sentenced, as well as breaking the law. However what they have done to break the law is unacceptable in society. For example what we have talked about in class a lot is the 100:1 ratio of crack. Then also who is that targeted at, society targets different races for certain things as to looking at society as a whole and going from there. Society looks as if colored people are more likely to have drugs on them. However whites are more associated with crack cocaine them blacks are. In a video shown in class 13% of blacks are crack users and 90% are defendants. The war on drugs is a good way to describe a criminal. Being caught with drugs, getting a sentence and being let go. However when you are caught again you with automatically be sentenced to jail and will have to do time. The war on drugs points fingers at certain races even though everyone that is in with drugs is equally distributed between all races. As to a lawbreaker is someone who is breaking the law but isn’t doing too much harm to society. For example, you’re running late and are in a school zone and are speeding much over the speed limit or running a red light. You are breaking the law but aren’t getting penalized for it, something small. A criminal has a lot bigger costs and consequences than a lawbreaker does. As said earlier, if you get caught having drugs on you is a cost and a consequence due to the fact that you can go to jail and have to pay lots of money. As to just getting pulled over from a speeding ticket, you will just have to pay your ticket and maybe you have learned not to speed.


  • Remember, “colored people” is dated and a term we no longer use. In terms of criminal versus law breaker … who gets to decide … why is marijuana use in one community a “problem” whereas in other, it’s not? How does race and class fit here?


    • Marijuana use in one community is a problem and then in another it is not beacuse that determines the type of community that you are in. Race and class fit in her because for an example dealing with drugs people are going to look at black suspects more than white drug dealers in the area especially if it is a low income area. If you were in a more up scale area people would not assume that white drug dealer is a dealer. Looking back to an extra credit film or discussion we had in class about people looking past the white drug dealers and going straight to the african a mercian, latino, etc.


  • The labels “Criminal” and “Law Breaker” have very different connotations and are used to describe different people in today’s day and age. I believe that race, class, and social stigmas define how people use these words and in what situations. Criminal is a permanent description; it is used to describe someone that has been breaking the law and is assumed not to stop any time soon. I see the word criminal used to describe the humans that commit heinous crimes, compared to law breaker, which can be used to people given a ticket for speeding or forgetting to put their seat-belt on. In regards to race, I feel like the media and many other people are more likely to call African Americans criminals opposed to lawbreakers. I believe that this is because of the way that both the media and the Criminal Justice system in America racially discriminate. The fact that 80-90% of drug users sent to prison are African American shows how racial profiling is effecting lives and shows why people in the US are quick to call African Americans criminals. Another shocking statistic is that 95% of people that were asked about the physical appearance of “a drug user” responded with the ethnicity of black. The media portrays African Americans as criminals and in the same situation a Caucasian person would probably be described as someone that broke the law, the severity in the descriptions of different races shown in the media is very disturbing. Something that I have seen recently in the media is how different races are portrayed after committing the same crime. I recently saw a tweet that compared two similar situations; both of these teenagers had committed murder of a classmate. The crime was the same, but the way the media showed the shooters was very different. The Caucasian shooter was described as a troubled person that had been broken down by others to the point where they had to use force to get a point across. And on the other hand, the African American shooter was described as a thug, no back-story or short memoir of the problems that they had gone through. The media was further criminalizing that person because of their race. This is seemingly becoming more and more common in the media.


  • The terms Criminal and Lawbreaker are two words with definitions that can be tricky to distinguish from one another. These definitions get tough when laws can vary from state to state or in the case of laws on marijuana, which are very different from region to region. It can be legal in the state of Washington, yet no matter what, in the state of Mississippi you can be considered a federal criminal for having a dime bag. With that being said there are still ways for defining these two different labels by looking at laws that are consistent across the entire nation. For example, two people rob a bank in any state, one gets arrested and charged, while the other gets away hands free. Both have become lawbreakers by participating in the bank robbery, however, only one of them is now considered a criminal. This example is a fairly un-realistic example, because the distinction between the two is often much more complex than that. In class we discussed how if someone had 100 grams of cocaine it would equal the same sentence as 1 gram of crack cocaine. Laws like these make it difficult to explain clearly the difference between who is a criminal and who is a lawbreaker because they make for such differences in the punishment of breaking laws. A person with a gram of cocaine still broke the law but he isn’t going to go to jail and have a blemished record. Whereas a person with one gram of crack is going to have an extended term in jail with a future that will be greatly impacted. A person who is a convicted criminal, has a very hard time living a completely normal life even if they have cleaned up their act. If they get pulled over by an officer for speeding, that officer will see all their previous run-ins with the law, which can potentially result in negative inferences or stereotypes that will lead the officer to issue a harsher punishment. If that same cop pulls over another person but this person only has a couple of tickets, he will most likely not think twice about it even though this person is a lawbreaker. As you can see the issue with defining these two words can build a lot of negative stereotypes and results. In order to help reduce these we need to better equalize all of our laws and punishments.


  • The difference between a criminal and a lawbreaker has much to do with our society rather than the laws that are being broken in the first place. It’s not unreasonable to state that we have all been lawbreakers at some point in our lives, whether it is for parking in a no park zone or drinking alcohol before our 21st birthday, everyone breaks the law. We would all like to believe it is the severity of the law that is broken that separates a daily fast driver from a thief, a drug user from a murderer, a lawbreaker from a criminal. However, due to the overwhelming statistics that show a misrepresentation of white criminals being processed and treated by the justice and prison systems, it is also not unreasonable to state that our society uses the pressures of race and economic class to decide between the ‘lawbreaker’ and ‘criminal’ labels.
    From what I have noticed and heard in my daily life, some Americans believe that racism is dead. In a perfect world, we would all like to believe this, yet the tyrannical hold of racism remains firmly wrapped around our beloved ‘fair and equal’ justice system. With numbers such as black youth being 6 times more likely to be locked up than whites, 84.5% of all crack possession arrests in 1994 being issued to blacks, and 91% of female drug arrests in NYC being for minorities, (only 32% of the states female population,) it’s pretty obvious that minorities, specifically African Americans, are convicted and imprisoned more than Caucasians.
    One could believe that this racial unbalance in our justice system occurs because minorities break more laws, however with nearly 2/3 of all crack users being white between 16 and 36, and African Americans only making up 13% of all monthly drug users yet 74% of our prison sentences, the numbers don’t add up to support this ideal that race effects crime rates. Targeted racial profiling is what causes this unbalance, morally wrong to its core; it’s shocking that profiling is promoted in policies such as the NYPD’s ‘stop and frisk’ practices.
    Profiling and its relationship with the racial unbalance in our correctional systems is circular logic. Police profile against minorities because they make up the majority of our convictions and prison populations, yet this is due to the fact that more minorities are searched and stopped than whites. For example, if police were to pull over 100 motorists with 80 of them being minorities stopped on the basis of racial profiling, police would not only be adding to the belief that minorities commit more crimes, but letting all the white criminals evade the law further supporting the notion that whites don’t break the law.
    It truly is heartbreaking that racism is one of our nations most prominent issues, yet probably the least addressed. If more Americans were educated on the racist ideals occurring right under our noses in the U.S. Justice System, maybe more progress could be made.


  • The terms criminal and lawbreakers are two totally different terms and they both can affect your life in two totally different ways. One of them can affect your life at a small cost or even just a warning and one of them can change/affect your life forever. When determining the difference between these terms its bad but in our world race has a lot to do with while dealing with the difference of these terms. When your talking about someone being a criminal you think of someone who has broken the law more than one time and has gotten caught doing so. With being a criminal and you have broken the law more than one time with being caught you then pick up the label as being classified as a criminal. Its bad once you are classified as being a criminal because that label sticks with you for the rest of your life. Even if you are not in jail but you are classified as being a criminal it will be hard for you to get a job because no one wants to hire someone with a bad criminal record therefore they cant get jobs and since they cant get a job they cant take care of themselves. Since they cant take care of themselves they are forced to do the illegal things that could put them back in jail again making it a never ending cycle which is how being a criminal can affect the rest of your life. On the other hand being a lawbreaker is not nearly as bad as being classified as a criminal. With the term lawbreaker we encounter these people everyday. With being a lawbreaker you can do something as simple as going over the speed limit or even running a red light. The consequences of these actions are way less severe than being a criminal like you might get fined or even be let off with a warning but it doesn’t affect the rest of your life. Where the racist part comes in at is who exactly is being classified as criminal or lawbreaker. In our world there typically is a lot of blacks being classified as criminals while on the other hand whites are being classified as lawbreakers. You can tell it is racist because even in Seattle where majority of the drug dealers are white the majority people getting arrested for drug dealing isn’t the whites its the blacks which is backwards because blacks aren’t even doing most of drug dealing. This is a big problem because dealing with something that can affect the rest of your life race should not be a factor both colors should be looked at equally. As I stated before the costs to being a criminal rather than being a lawbreaker is way harsher than being a lawbreaker. While being a criminal can affect your life permanently a lawbreaker is more temporary.


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