Saturday, June 2, 2007

Green on White Collar Crime Sentencing

Professor Stuart Green is doing a guest stint at the PrawfsBlawg and has an interesting post (here) on sentencing in white collar crimes, "White-Collar and Red-Handed."  He discusses the recent sentencing of a former Chinese government official to death for accepting bribes, and the suicide of a Japanese minister about to face a Parliamentary inquiry for possible bid-rigging.  Stuart addresses the broader question of how harsh should sentences for white collar offenses be, a particularly timely topic with defendants like I. Lewis Libby, Richard Scrushy & Don Siegelman, and Joseph Nacchio facing prison terms.  He writes:

What is the appropriate penalty for white collar crimes? When are they too harsh? When too lenient? Criminal law scholars traditionally distinguish between ordinal and cardinal proportionality. Ordinal proportionality concerns how wrongdoers are punished relative to each other. Cardinal proportionality deals with the absolute severity levels anchoring the penalty scheme as a whole. Most commentators believe that the sentencing scheme in the U.S. (as in China) is far too harsh from the perspective of cardinal proportionality: the whole system is ratcheted up too high. But ordinal proportionality is something else. Is there any reason why the penalties for our most serious white collar crimes should necessarily be lower than the penalties for our most serious blue collar crimes?

Maybe we'll get Stuart to join us for a little while, too. (ph)

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