The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison (Hardcover)

Ideology, Class, and Criminal Justice

By Jeffrey Reiman, Paul Leighton

Routledge, 9781138210929, 280pp.

Publication Date: November 10, 2016

List Price: 160.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


For nearly 40 years, this classic text has taken the issue of economic inequality seriously and asked: Why are our prisons filled with the poor? Why aren't the tools of the criminal justice system being used to protect Americans from predatory business practices and to punish well-off people who cause widespread harm?

The Rich Get Richer shows readers that much that goes on in the criminal justice system violates citizens' sense of basic fairness. It presents extensive evidence from mainstream data that the criminal justice system does not function in the way it says it does nor in the way that readers believe it should. The authors develop a theoretical perspective from which readers might understand these failures and evaluate them morally--and they to do it in a short and relatively inexpensive text written in plain language.

New to this edition:

  • Presents recent data comparing the harms due to criminal activity with the harms of dangerous--but not criminal--corporate actions
  • Presents new data on recent crime rate declines, which are paired with data on how public safety is not prioritized by the U.S. government
  • Updates statistics on crime, victimization, wealth and discrimination, plus coverage of the increasing role of criminal justice fines and fees in generating revenue for government
  • Updates on the costs to society of white-collar crime
  • Updates and deepened analysis of why fundamental reforms are not undertaken
  • Streamlined and condensed prose for greater clarity

About the Author

Jeffrey Reiman is the William Fraser McDowell Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at American University in Washington, D.C. In addition to The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, Dr. Reiman is the author of In Defense of Political Philosophy (1972), Justice and Modern Moral Philosophy (1990), Critical Moral Liberalism: Theory and Practice (1997), The Death Penalty: For and Against (with Louis P. Pojman, 1998), Abortion and the Ways We Value Human Life (1999), As Free and as Just as Possible (2012), and more than 60 articles in philosophy and criminal justice journals and anthologies. Paul Leighton is a Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology at Eastern Michigan University. In addition to The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, Dr. Leighton is the co-author of Punishment for Sale (with Donna Selman, 2010) and Class, Race, Gender and Crime (with Gregg Barak and Allison Cotton, 4th edition, 2013). He is also co-editor, with Jeffrey Reiman, of the anthology Criminal Justice Ethics (2001). In addition to his publications, Dr. Leighton is webmaster for and