The Stickup Kids: Law and the Dominican Drug Robbers

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Introduction

The Stickup Kids: Law and the Dominican Drug Robbers is a part memoir, part ethnography kind of book in which Randol Contreras provides a narrative of the Dominican immigrant story in relation to drugs and crime. In the book, the author provides not only his experiences in the drug market but also the practices and circumstances of his Dominican friends. In essence, the book is a journey through the streets of South Bronx where robbery, violence and drugs are a major part of the lives of the Dominican population.

How the Criminal Justice Policies Impact the Lives of the Dominican Drug Market Participants?

In The Stickup Kids: Law and the Dominican Drug Robbers, the one story that stands out is that of Gus and his scar. The scar was from a knife fight that he was in while in prison. His stories from the jails were all racial hatred, where the criminal justice system only got him to hate the African Americans while seeking the domination of the Spanish Americans. This is mainly because the jails are overcrowded and, thus, there are limited resources to go around. In these jails, the most populous races are African Americans, followed by the Latin Americans, thus, the two groups are constantly at loggerheads for domination rights. This kind of situation shapes the racist attitudes of the Dominican drug market participants who after hearing from their jailed comrades they also end up hating and despising the African Americans.

Another impact of the criminal justice policies is the way these drug market participants are unable to just leave their trade even in jail and after they serve their sentences. Contreras (2012) notes that the criminal justice system is such that people serve their sentences and are released back into the world as they were, with little help in terms of how to become better citizens. They leave the criminal justice system with no tools to keep them out of hatever activities that got them there in the first place. Therefore, the Dominican drug market participants are aware that they do not have a choice when it comes to making for a living and even if they get caught, they would just serve their sentence and get back on the streets like most of their business associates.

In addition, the criminal justice policies inculcate violence into these drug criminals. This is seen in Pablo’s narrative about his experiences in jail. People get convicted and thrown into jail for minor charges like drug possession but they are exposed to so much violence within the jail walls that they come out hardened and more violent. This is blamed upon the criminal justice policies in the US because they have allowed violence amongst inmates. In addition, while fighting may not be allowed, it has been reported that inmates even kill one another within these jails and, thus, the system is to blame the kind of environment that is created by those who exploit the existing loopholes for their personal gain.     

How Contreras Views the Role of Crime Research in Shaping and Influencing Criminal Justice Policies?

Crime research provides evidence on criminal activities especially with respect to causes and trends. This means that they are a great insight for those who seek to understand the world of crime. For example, The Stickup Kids: Law and the Dominican Drug Robbers is an enlightening read with respect to the circumstances that push the Dominicans into the drug market. This kind of knowledge can be useful in understanding the reasons behind criminal indulgence, thus, being pivotal in crafting effective criminal justice policies for preventing crime and rehabilitating criminals.

One of the interesting findings for most crime researches is that the criminals are unable to turn a new leaf once they finish their sentences. According to Contreras (2012), this understanding is extremely pertinent in shaping a criminal justice policy that works in reducing crime through punishment and rehabilitation. Handing out harsh sentences is not enough as a deterrent of crime considering that once the sentences are served, the criminals will be back to where they started in terms of skills and abilities. Having acquired even more skills in violence and racial profiling from their prison term, they are compelled by the need to make a living to go back on the streets and be even better criminals. A policy crafted with this in mind would ensure that the criminals are coached during their prison terms to enable them to make a decent living away from crime. This may include vocational training, job placement support and civil education to eliminate social stigma that often isolates these ex-convicts to the point that they become prisoners even after they leave the system.

Findings about violence within the criminal justice system are also useful in coming up with policies to deter these practices. Contreras (2012) argues that once the impact of violence is established in a study, it becomes pertinent for the criminal justice system to deduce policies that reduce violence within the jails for better outcomes in the system with respect to punishment and rehabilitation. Such a policy would then be credited to the studies on the impact and prevalence of violence in the jails. Generally, crime research supports the creation of effective criminal justice policies by providing a rational, objective and evidence based backdrop for the policy makers.   

Conclusion

Randol Contreras, in his book, provides the narrative of the Dominican street criminals of South Bronx. This book is very informative with respect to the experiences and motivations as well as beliefs of the Dominican drug market participants and they are very useful in not only understanding these individuals but also formulating a criminal justice policy that can get them off the street into a better life on the right side of the law.

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