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In this paper I will examine some of the practical and moral dilemmas posed by security policy in a country like Argentina where there is great social injustice and high levels of poverty and indigence with a sustained increase in violent crime against persons. Firstly, I will analyze certain economic indicators of the levels of poverty, destitution, and inequality that characterize social structure in Argentina. Secondly, I will evaluate the increase in violent crimes against persons. Thirdly, I will debate whether criminal prosecution of people who are destitute and excluded from the political system is justified. The thesis I defend is that the State has the duty to protect people from violent crime through the application of prison sentences, despite the injustice of the system and the exclusion of many who commit them. Without disregarding the structural nature of the security problem and the need to implement long-term policies for economic develop, income redistribution, education, and social integration, I will argue that the circumstances of exclusion and marginalization do not constitute a valid excuse for removing criminal responsibility from individuals who commit violent crimes against other persons.


Paper presented at SELA 2010, Insecurity, Democracy, and Law, in Santiago de Chile as part of the session on “Equality and Punishment.”