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Cheating WelfarePublic Assistance and the Criminalization of Poverty$
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Kaaryn S. Gustafson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814732311

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814732311.001.0001

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Cheating Ourselves

Cheating Ourselves

(p.181) 8 Cheating Ourselves
Cheating Welfare

Kaaryn S. Gustafson

NYU Press

This chapter examines the legitimacy of welfare law by proposing frameworks other than the governing frame of criminal regulation to guide welfare policies. It suggests that the U.S. welfare system undermines rather than promotes legality and that many welfare recipients lack basic knowledge of the rules. The recipients interviewed for this book reported receiving wrong information about the rules and requirements from welfare officials. There was a gap between the rules as they were announced and their actual implementation, and some of the elements of federal welfare reform contradicted each other. As a result, welfare recipients had difficulty orienting their actions to the welfare rules. Since the penalties were not clear to those subject to them, the get-tough penalties for welfare cheating could not deter rule breaking. This chapter outlines the basics of procedurally fair and just welfare laws that adhere to the fundamental principles of legality, are not contradictory or too complicated, can be effectively communicated to the public, and can be followed.

Keywords:   legitimacy, welfare law, criminal regulation, welfare system, legality, welfare recipients, welfare, welfare rules, welfare cheating, rule breaking

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