The Impact of Poverty on Crime in Montgomery County
On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, students ViNiceia Carter and Michelle Nyden from the UMBC Social Work program and Camila Thorpe and Andrew Hart from the UMCP Criminology and Criminal Justice program, presented to the Montgomery County Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission (CJCC) regarding the relationship between intergenerational poverty and crime. Dr. Wendy Stickle, Program Director of the UMCP Criminology and Criminal Justice program and Katie Morris, Program Director of the UMBC Social Work program were the faculty advisors on this independent study project. Adam Binkley, of Center for Academic Success (CAS), worked closely with the students to improve their group work, writing, and presentation skills. The students researched the issue of intergenerational poverty and crime and found disparities between non-impoverished and impoverished populations including health, behavioral health and emotional development, violence and criminality, and education. These challenges are accentuated when an individual has a criminal record.
The students developed an interview protocol based on their research and interviewed nine county and state employees to pinpoint the challenges within Montgomery County. The students organized their interview findings into several perspectives—the agency, community, and individual. The interviewees provided a lot of rich commentary. By organizing in this way, it allowed for more actionable recommendations at the various levels. Findings relating to the individual perspective primarily included individuals having a lack of resources or knowledge about education, housing, healthcare, behavioral health, addiction programs, employment, childcare, and financial support.
The interviews showed that, from the agency prospective, programming options are limited, especially those focused on early interventions, gang involvement, and alternatives to incarceration. Based on their preliminary findings, the students concluded that the county should focus on providing more programming, improve inter-agency collaboration, and develop a method of tracking criminal outcomes.
Challenges from the community perspective included housing segregation caused by economic status, low-income living challenges, such as educational opportunity disparities, a lack of youth programming, increased police attention, a disconnect from the larger Montgomery County community, and misconceptions of the financial make-up within the county.
Resulting from the literature review and interviews, the students proposed suggestions to the commission about future actions to take within the county. The CJCC strongly supported the recommendations and followed up with some questions and suggestions for the students to include in their work, which the students will continue throughout the spring semester. Please congratulate them on their success and hard work!