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A Study On Blue-Collar Crimes

Evolved from dreadful hardships and messed up social conditions during the early 1900s the Blue Collar crimes in the American society made a swift voyage to the criminal strata of other nations around the globe. In criminology, blue-collar crime is any crime committed by an individual from a lower social class as opposed to white-collar crime which is associated with crime committed by someone of a higher-level social class.

Such crimes are primarily guided by the wobbling economic conditions of the individual and the nation and are so personal that can be out of rage, revenge or power driven[1]. These crimes can be for immediate beneficial gain to the individual or group involved in them and can also include personal related crimes that can be driven by immediate reaction, such as during fights or confrontations.[2]

These crimes include but are not limited to:

Narcotic production or distribution, sexual assault, theft, burglary, assault or murder; but also extortion, dacoity, sexual crimes, riots etc. Financial hardships and social backwardness and the zeal to grab attention is fancied by blue collar crimes. Shockingly this type of crimes are the root of all other crimes almost as this crimes directly relate to human activity, thus the two elements of constituting a crime i.e. Mens Rea which is guilty mind and Actus Reas which is act to commit a crime are duly present subject to certain exceptions.

Socio- Legal background during evolution of penal laws

Durkheim opined that moral education cannot be effective in an economically unjust society. The expression of frustration and discontent is generally shown in the form of certain forbidden acts condemned by a civil society.

According to Terrence Morris:
"Crime is what society says is crime by establishing that an act is violation of the criminal law. Without a law there can be no crime at all, although there may be moral indignation which results in the law being enacted".

Law has evolved all through the decades to suit the interest of social justice. The only flaw which legal rules and regulations carry is that these are set of obligations established by men as politically superior, or sovereign, to men as politically subject. In certain social system the laws are seen as arbitrary and hated thereby gives rise to riots and crimes.[3]

Born out of social hardships and economic constructs where to achieve equalities is to sabotage the social order first and then bring about public justice was seen as a menacing act that needs to be subjugated by legal enforcements and judicial interpretations.[4]

Oppression of criminal activity began in several economies as a project to eradicate evils and bring about peace and justice that has in time taken the form of philosophical and more of psychological approaches as the philanthropist world believes that criminals are not born but are made.

Well in a society where there is constant oppressions, superstitions, dilapidations, communal bias and inequalities there is the labyrinth of all social evils. Stark, 1987 opined that poverty and economic instability along with Social inequality attracts the fair share of criminal activities and are way different from the acts of upper-class neighbourhood.[5] Why blue collar crimes is so highlighted is that it exists prior to any other forms of crime being committed.

Struggle between human rights and criminal justice
Blue-collar crime is such a form of crime that is usually violent and unsophisticated such as robbery, assault, vandalism, arson, drug smuggling. The justice delivery systems around the globe joined hands for protection of humanity against such spread of crimes. But surprisingly these kinds of criminal justice systems are the grave sources of human rights violation by promoting extra judicial executions, arbitrary detention and discrimination.

Often recognised as unlawful activities owing to its unacceptable social behaviours blue collar crimes are social menaces and to sabotage it as a grievous and unpardonable crimes is in the eyes of human rights a draconian philosophy. The word "Draconian" is attributed to the ruler Draco of ancient Athens around 621 BC, is synonymous with barbaric, ruthless, cruel and authoritarian.

Draco believed that all crimes whether be petty or grave were punishable by death. In the late 1800s and through the 19th century the jurists pronounced death as the ultimate means to penance and to bring social peace. Felony under the common law were usually punishable by hanging, misdemeanours were punishable by wide ranges of non-capital punishments and with the growing human rights concerns the death penalty deemed to be substituted with transportation, imprisonment, whipping and fines.[6]

A gradual reluctance to death penalty was seen in the late 1800s when criminal law aimed much on bringing reforms and only those found guilty of most serious offences (murder, wounding, robbery, arson, sodomy) were sentenced to death and execution and transportation was mostly called for that the best punishment would be to send them to exile and remain in solitary confinement but this too faced laches that it failed to deter crime and did not lead to the reformation of convicts and subject to inhumane treatment and began to decline in 1840s and later abolished by Penal Servitude Act, 1857.[7]

Penalty procedures were in the ruthless stages when women found guilty of either treason or petty treason, anti-social immoral acts were burned alive that was replaced by drawing and hanging in 1790 after being abolished. In the nineteenth century the common law allowed women to claim "plead their belly" on being sentenced to death to get respite from punishment until the child was born and could be pardoned as a matter of care and compassion.

With the implementations of several acts Offences Against the Persons Act 1861and The Murder Act, 1752 the horrific punishments would be given to those coming crimes like murder that their bodies would be subject to dissection and anatomised or hung in chains so as to instil a sense of fear to increase the deterrent effect of capital punishment. Dissection was abolished in 1832 and hanging in chains in 1834.[8]

The common law system was moved by the wind of human justice that paved the way for much more progressive thought behind reformation and the sense that criminals are not just beast waiting for being crucified but are human beings too needed to reminded their true human selves. Punishment has slowly taken the form of imprisonment and fines after 1779.

The Penitentiary Act for serious offences as well such as man- slaughter, petty larceny and simple grand larceny. The traditionally-open nature of pre -modern prisons was replaced by separate cells for prisoners and various combinations of "silent" "solitary" prison regimes where prisoners were put to hard labour and subject to religious instructions for moral development. It can be seen that slowed human justice soaked its way in the criminal justice delivery system and though there are human rights violation through the globe legal system has got it covered too some extent to bring harmony between justice and ethics.[9]

Legislative enforcements and adjudicatory measures
The advent of legislative statues and regulations was mainly due to the global attention towards the mutual relationship between human rights violations and individual criminal responsibility that recognised reformative approach is far more jubilant than deterrent approach.

Highly mistaken as being petty offences the blue collar crimes are to be seen with magnified eyes that they are such social evils that are much more intertwined with human rights than any other crimes as these are violations of jus cogens, these can simple offences or can take the shape of serious heinous crimes that can shock the very foundational human ethical values in the international community.

In the international community the criminal activities that are threat to humanity even the grievous form of blue-collar crimes are instituted in the International Criminal Court (ICC) and in the national level the criminal codes arguably takes into account such vast sections of crimes. The ICC statutes pertains to fill the gap created due to the absence of a multilateral international treaty on crimes against humanity and takes into account the crimes that occur due to genocide, war and riots etc.

In the domestic level the crimes relating to property, human body, attempt to commit a crime etc are in line with the global recognition of crimes such as murder; extermination; enslavement; deportation or forcible transfer of population; severe deprivation of physical liberty; assault; rape, prostitution, trafficking, forced pregnancy and sterilization; persecution against any identifiable group or collectively on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender; inequality and discrimination. That creates a harmonious balance between global criminal justice delivery system. [10]

In India, the incorporation of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 acted as a benchmark statute that was accepted as a consolidated book of crimes with their due meanings in order to understand what actually constitutes the crime and also lays down the penalty according to its grievousness.

The sections of IPC, 1860 along with The Criminal Procedure Code, 1872 takes into account not only the various types of blue-collar crimes but also white collar crimes, green collar crimes etc. In 1860 the penal statute was enforced with a vision that the Indian society needs a domestic penal code that guides its civilised actions and over the years, legal propositions, ratio decidendi laid down several new amendments for the greatest good of the society.

The term "transportation" has been omitted for imprisonment by the commencement of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Code, 1995 (26 of 1995) and today the offender shall be dealt with the same manner as if sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for the same term. In the case of Narotam Singh v. State of Punjab,[11] it was dictated that the reformative approach towards punishment should be the object of criminal law in order to promote rehabilitation without offending communal conscience and to secure social justice Commutation of death sentence is too subject to deliberative corroboration and seen with effective social justice guided under Section 54 of the IPC.

In a recent controversial case of hit and run murder by politician's vehicle in a rally of agitated farmers the Supreme drew broad light on the true definition of a victim , it opined - as per United Nation General Assembly 40/34 , a victim is someone who has suffered harm, physical or emotional suffering, or any impairment of fundamental rights through the acts or omissions that are in violation of fundamental laws of any state. Here the victim is not only the oppressed but the commoners turned evil too became a victim of social oppression.[12]

Till date more than two hundred acts and rules have been instituted to curb crimes of all forms in Indian legal system such as POCSO Act; Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967; Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985; Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1988;Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988; Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956 , etc. Every such acts has been brought up to cater the especial mandate to curtail increasing levels of social evils.

The attribute of blue collar crimes as opposed to other types of crimes are that it evolves personally but takes the shape of widespread or systematic attack committed against a civilian population that can have a larger social effect. The criminalisation of such violative acts are crucial because it involves serious breaches of the hard core human rights. [13]

Thus it is the legislative and penal enforcements and judicial measures that attempts to identify the category of such anti-social criminal active, deconstructing the elements of the crime to understand its origin and effect and enforce measures that not only these crimes are discarded but proper enforcement can be achieved of right to be free from cruel and inhuman treatment, or degrading treatment, right not to be deprived of life in an extrajudicial or arbitrary manner and to set fundamental fair trial guarantees.[14]

Conclusive recommendations
According to Robert Merton crime by the poor results from a gap between the cultural emphasis on economic prosperity and inequality via concentration of wealth despite of legitimate means of working. Delinquency results from weak bonds of conventional social institutions.

The criminal activities of the core society is shaped by mass agitation and conflicts, the reduced means of justice and attention. The radical thinkers aims to reinforce power to the subdued to keep the poor and underprivileged in the front line as that of the upper class. While the feminist thinkers believe crime and anarchy as a gender biased- that the females are more supposed to atrocities than men.[15]

Despite of differences, the root causes of blue collar crimes are generally unified in its features. It is blooming because of social disorganization, lack of interaction and attention, differentiation in terms of class, religion, sex, caste, ethnicity and colour and most importantly faulty prison system where the inhuman conditions makes a convict a victim.

Unless the prison conditions, facilities, regular surveys on the criminal behaviour patterns, the strengthening of technology for evidence research and data privacy, adequate judicial considerations, and safety of the prisoners are marked society would be labyrinth of criminal activities. The main attention must be given on the social construction. It is required to give a retrospective effect on the established codes and conduct and annual or quarterly surveys can immensely help bringing out loopholes of misconduct and fallacy.

The judiciary attains to salvage cases shall not miss out considering crucial points of unrest whereby social evil creeps in and clouds peoples mind with political, religious and gender and class based biasness.[16] The true evil supposedly is the biasness only which brings windfall gains to one part and overshadows the downtrodden.

Most importantly expediency of the judiciary is truly the need of the hour as well as the legislature should make use of the concept of judicial review and judicial application of mind while formulating new acts or amending any statutes which have a far flung impact on the masses.

The theory of separation of power as one of the important features of a healthy state but in certain cases of social justice the three organs i.e., the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary must come together to formulate a code for salvaging any such crimes that falls under Blue Collar Crimes.

  1. Anonymous,
  2. Anonymous, 20,2022)
  3. University Of Minnesota Library, (Nov.6 2022).
  4. H. Haferkamp, Social Condition and Criminal Behaviour, Volume: 6 Kriminologisches Journal 3 171-181 ( 1974) Social Condition And Criminal Behavio| Office of Justice Programs ( 12, 2022)
  5. Stark, R. Deviant Places: A Theory Of The Ecology Of Crimes 893-911(1987) (Sept. 2 ,2022)
  6. Robert Shoemaker, Punishments,1780-1925,_1780-1925 (Oct.25,2022)
  7. Ibid
  8. Ibid
  9. R. J. Sampson, et al, Taking stock: The status of criminological theory, New Brunswick Vol. 15, 313-333) (2006). June 17, 2022
  10. Ronald L. Simons, Learning To Be Bad: Adverse Social Conditions, Social Schemas, And Crime, 49(2)Criminology 553-598(2011) (May 10, 2022)
  11. AIR 1978 SC 1542 (India)
  12. Jagjeet Singh & Ors v. Ashish Mishra @ Monu & Anr, 2022 CRLJ 632 (India)
  13. Harris, et al, Looking for patterns: Race, class, and crime. In J. F.Sheley (Ed.), Criminology: A contemporary handbook, Belmont, CA ed. 3, 129-163 (2000). (June 2 ,2022)
  14. M. DeLone, et al, The color of justice: Race, ethnicity, and crime in America (5th ed.) Belmont, CA (2012)(September 23, 2022)
  15. University Of Minnesota Library,
  16. Lindsey, Gender roles: A sociological perspective (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall(2011).(August 20, 2022)

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