Cheating Welfare: Public Assistance and the Criminalization by Kaaryn S. Gustafson

By Kaaryn S. Gustafson

During the last 3 a long time, welfare regulations were trained by means of well known ideals that welfare fraud is rampant. for that reason, welfare rules became extra punitive and the bounds among the welfare method and the felony justice method have blurred--so a lot in order that in a few locales prosecution caseloads for welfare fraud exceed welfare caseloads. actually, a few recipients manage the welfare process for his or her personal ends, others are gravely harm through punitive rules, and nonetheless others fall someplace in between.In dishonest Welfare, Kaaryn S. Gustafson endeavors to resolve those grey components through delivering insights into the historical past, social building, and lived adventure of welfare. She exhibits why dishonest is all yet inevitable--not simply because bad everyone is immoral, yet simply because traditional participants navigating complicated platforms of ideas are inclined to turn into entangled regardless of their top efforts. via an exam of the development of the crime we all know as welfare fraud, which she bases on in-depth interviews with welfare recipients in Northern California, Gustafson demanding situations readers to question their assumptions approximately welfare regulations, welfare recipients, and crime regulate within the usa.

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According to prosecutors, Woods fraudulently collected $377,458 in wel Reconstructing Social Illsâ•… |â•… 35 fare fraud between 1974 and 1980 (New York Times, March 17, 1983a). The media dubbed Woods—who possessed a Rolls Royce, a Mercedes Benz, and a Cadillac and who lived in a large house with a pool—the “Welfare Queen” (New York Times, December 21, 1980). Rather than treating the three welfare fraud cases of Linda Taylor, Barbara Jean Williams, and Dorothy Woods as the exceptional instances of criminal activity they were, politicians—and the media and public as well—adopted these cases as typifying poor, African American women on welfare.

In many of those cases, though, the men, not the women, were charged with fraud. Men found residing with women receiving welfare aid were treated as the welfare cheats. The prosecutions of men, rather than women, suggest that the welfare and law enforcement officials considered women to be easily manipulated by the men but ultimately blameless in the cheating (Neubeck Reconstructing Social Illsâ•… |â•… 21 and Cazenave 2001, 102). This view of the innocence of women, however, would change over time.

Not all of the Supreme Court decisions, however, favored welfare recipients. While the procedural rationality of AFDC was stepped up, the substantive foundations of the welfare program remained in question. ” In fact, the Supreme Court ruled that states possessed the authority to cut welfare benefits and to set maximum aid payment levels even when those levels would leave families with unmet needs (Rosado v. Wyman (1970); Dandridge v. Williams (1970)). Moreover, the Supreme Court rejected arguments that programmatic distinctions between categories of the poor—specifically those that provided higher ben30â•… |â•… Reconstructing Social Ills efits to the white and elderly and lower benefits to the black and young— amounted to invidious discrimination (Jefferson v.

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