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Abolishing the stigma of punishments served

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The Benthamite workhouse principle of ‘less eligibility’ dates back to the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 and, since its application to the sphere of criminal justice, has long dictated that prisoners and other lawbreakers should always be last in the queue for access to scant welfare resources because of the moral censure attached to their behaviour. This continues to be problematic for those advocating penal reform with debates about imprisonment often descending into objections to any material improvement in conditions on the basis that they would be unfair to ‘hard-working taxpayers’ or the supposedly ‘law-abiding majority’. An allied but lesser known principle is that of ‘non-superiority’ which Mannheim (1939) described as ‘the requirement that the condition of the criminal when he has paid the penalty for his crime should be at least not superior to that of the lowest classes of the non-criminal population’.

Acceptance Date Jun 24, 2014
Publication Date Aug 8, 2014
Journal Criminal Justice Matters
Print ISSN 0962-7251
Publisher Routledge
Pages 22 -23
Publisher URL


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