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Stern, Vivien


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The Independent - United Kingdom | 03/03/2006

Focus on crime punishes those at bottom of society

"Social policy is being reshaped to put crime at the centre," warns Baroness Vivien Stern, a senior research fellow at the International Centre for Prison Studies, in remarks taken from a lecture to the British Institute of Human Rights. "We fill the crime category with people whose acts can indeed be defined as criminal, but which would better be defined as manifestations of social distress. We create new crimes to absorb all the socially annoying or uncomfortable acts that people engage in. This increase in criminalisation affects mostly those at the bottom of society, the poor and the excluded. We are choosing to punish mainly the people whom life has already punished severely in other ways. ... This policy costs a lot of money and draws whole swathes of the population into the criminal net."

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