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Abstract

The experiences of women who have been charged with welfare fraud in the years following the passage of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act cast a shadow over the claim that welfare reform has been an unequivocal success. This article addresses this under-explored issue by considering the face of welfare fraud in San Diego, California after the change to federal welfare law. After a brief discussion of the socio-historical context of welfare fraud prosecution and a summary of the scholarly findings related to welfare fraud post-PRWORA, the aiticle details a new "poverty knowledge" about welfare fraud drawn from the experiences of women. This is followed by a discussion of how this knowledge has been used to help inspire the creation of a welfare fraud diversion program that serves as an alternative to felony prosecution for first-time, low-level welfare fraud defendants in San Diego County.

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