Over the last few years, there has been a growing level of discussion on prison overcrowding. One suggestion that has “picked up” steam in recent years is the reduction in punishment for non-violent offenses (of which most white-collar crimes would be classified). As a result, we are seeing more and more cases where subjects committing white-collar offenses are being released back into the community under limited supervision (not that Probation/Parole does not try it is just that they cannot keep up). With this in mind, do you agree that white-collar offenses should be punished less severely? Why or why not (Be sure to support your answers with examples when possible).
2 chapters of the Book are attached as pdf attachments.
Book reference: Hess, K. M. (2017). Criminal Investigation, 11th Edition.
White Collar Crimes
White-collar crimes need to be punished more severely to deter potential criminals from engaging in it and discourage offenders from reengaging in it. These crimes are often considered less harmful because they do not involve physical force or violent acts (Hess, 2017). However, the damage caused by white-collar criminals tends to be severe. Corporate criminals cause tremendous financial injury to a large number of people. For example, the Enron scandal resulted in the corporation’s collapse in 2001, resulting in huge financial losses to shareholders as well as former employees who used to depend on the company for their livelihoods (Dutcher, 2005). Harsher punishments for white-collar criminals will serve as a deterrent, thus protecting millions of people from financial harm resulting from the havoc caused by white-collar criminals.
Harsh punishments for white collar crimes are appropriate since they help in fostering an industrious and safe society. When criminal are punished, chances of future harm are lessened because of deterrence. When the punishment is lenient, the function of deterrence will not be accomplished. Whenever white-collar crime punishment is made less punitive, more people will continue engaging in the vice due to the promise of huge financial rewards (Johnson & Osler, 2015). For example, when a criminal knows that he/she will be fined an amount of money that is less than he is planning to steal through fraud, they are likely to jump into a chance to commit the crime when a chance arises, meaning that the punishment will not have served any deterrent purpose. Apart from fines, criminals should also serve for a long time in prisons to discourage potential criminals (Gustafson, 2006). Light sentences such as short jail terms and fewer fines even when the financial injury caused to people runs into billions of dollars make white collar crimes lucrative.
To conclude, the implementation of harsher punishments as opposed to lenient ones will help deter white collar criminals from fraud that results into financial injury to millions of people. The amount of fines charged should be high, and they should also be accompanied by long jail terms. Severe forms of punishment will help in deterring potential offenders hence reducing the extent of havoc that is caused by white collar crime.
Dutcher, J. S. (2005). From the Boardroom to the Cellblock: The Justifications for Harsher Punishment of White-collar and Corporate Crime. Ariz. St. LJ, 37, 1295.
Gustafson, J. L. (2006). Cracking Down on White-collar Crime: An Analysis of the Recent Trend of Severe Sentences for Corporate Officers. Suffolk UL Rev., 40, 685.
Hess, K. M. (2017). Criminal Investigation, 11th Edition. London: Routledge.
Johnson, T., & Osler, M. W. (2015). Why Not Treat Drug Crimes as White-Collar Crimes?