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Isabel Schoultz

Isabel Schoultz

Head of department

Isabel Schoultz

State Crime in the Street-Level Bureaucracy : Towards an Understanding of Crimes of the Welfare State

Author

  • Isabel Schoultz

Summary, in English

On the basis of two points of departure: (1) no state has clean hands and (2) the types of crime a state commits vary with state formations, this article explores cases where the Swedish state and its agencies have been held responsible for some form of wrongdoing. Drawing on a total of 8,561 judgments issued against the state by agencies of control (the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Chancellor of Justice, and the European Court of Human Rights), the study finds that most cases of substantive and procedural crime committed by the state are related to the street-level bureaucracy, where state officials working in public sector agencies interact with citizens in the course of their everyday employment. Further, the study finds that most of the judgments revolve around issues of particular accountability relating to the individual interests of the complainants and that only a relatively small portion involve complaints against the state in relation to general policies or general conduct. One overall conclusion is that the crimes committed by the Swedish welfare state involve acts of negligence rather than purposeful acts of repression, and that the offences primarily involve procedural rather than substantive wrongs. The results are interpreted as a function of both how state bureaucracy works and of the limited ability of the existing control mechanisms.

Publishing year

2012

Language

English

Pages

258-275

Publication/Series

International Criminal Justice Review

Volume

22

Issue

3

Document type

Journal article

Publisher

SAGE Publications

Topic

  • Law and Society

Keywords

  • control of the state
  • state crime
  • street-level bureaucracy
  • welfare state

Status

Published

ISBN/ISSN/Other

  • ISSN: 1057-5677