Monday, December 25, 2006
Gary Fields has an incredible article in the Wall Street Journal today that focuses on whether Congress will again revisit the sentencing guidelines for convictions by crack offenders. The 100:1 sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine has long been a issue of concern for many critics of the guidelines. The mandatory minimum sentences involved in drug cases also influence the enormous sentences received by these offenders. But two items in this article also say something, albeit indirectly, about white collar crime.
First is that while there are 94,434 individuals incarcerated on drug convictions, there are only 7,454 on extortion, fraud, and bribery. An additional statistic reported in this article that is relevant to this blog, is that violent crime "in 2005 rose more than it has in any of the last 15 years."
Clearly white collar individuals play a smaller number in our prisons when compared to groups such as drug offenders. Also clear is that the recent increased government focus on corporate criminality may need to be revisited if it turns out that there is a correlation between the expense of resources in this direction as opposed to the money being spent on prosecuting violent crimes and thus a resulting increase in violent crimes. The additional question is what does it mean that violent crime is increasing despite increased sentences and more incarceration -- has the move away from a rehabilitative model failed? Should we also be looking at this question with respect to white collar crime? Will draconian sentences really serve to deter criminality, and should we be more focused on rehabilitating individuals? Or perhaps even an education model that attacks the criminality prior to it occurring?