Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sentencing for White Collar Crimes Article

The sentencing of white collar defendants, especially high-profile corporate executives convicted of a variety of fraud-related offenses, has been in the news a great deal these days.  From the 20+ year sentences handed out to Bernie Ebbers and Jeffrey Skilling to the upcoming sentencing of Lord Conrad Black in which the government has asked for upwards of 30 years, the severity of these punishments has called into question the rationale and efficacy of sentencing in white collar crime cases.  Blog co-editor Professor Ellen Podgor has a new article that will appear in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology entitled "The Challenge of White Collar Sentencing."  The abstract states:

Sentencing white collar offenders is difficult in that the economic crimes committed clearly injured individuals, but the offenders do not present a physical threat to society. This Article questions the necessity of giving draconian sentences, in some cases in excess of twenty - five years, to non - violent first offenders who commit white collar crimes. The attempts by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to achieve a neutral sentencing methodology, one that is class - blind, fails to respect the real differences presented by these offenders. As the term white - collar crime has sociological roots, it is advocated here that sociology needs to be a component in the sentencing of white collar offenders.

The article is available on SSRN here. (ph)

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While white collar crime deserves fair punishment, it does seem that the sentences are excessive. It would appear that they should be revisited.

Posted by: Chuck Gallagher | Nov 29, 2007 6:28:56 PM