Monday, February 09, 2009

Feds tolerate white collar crimes more than drug offenses

You're a lot more likely to wind up in a federal prison if you're arrested on a drug charge, according to the US Sentencing Commission, than you are for engaging in larceny, fraud, or white collar crime. According to a new report by the USSC titled "Alternative Sentencing in the Federal Criminal Justice System" (pdf), a whopping 92% of drug convictions resulted in a prison sentence, compared to 39% of convictions for larceny, 60% of convictions for fraud, and just 57% of convictions for white collar crime.

With the national financial system melting down before our eyes, one wonders whether such relative leniency for white collar transgressions - particularly the decline in white collar prosecutions over the last five years and the advent of so-called deferred prosecution agreements for corporate wrongdoers - may have contributed to the nation's current economic woes?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Police seizure of items in East Texas town spurs lawsuit, reform effort

12:00 AM CST on Monday, February 9, 2009
The Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO – A state law that allows authorities to seize property is being used by some to grab cash, jewelry, vehicles and other valuables without so much as a criminal charge, never mind a conviction.

Law enforcement officers in Tenaha, a chicken farming town of 1,000 people near the Louisiana line, took property from at least 140 motorists between 2006 and 2008 – filing criminal charges against fewer than half, according to court documents reviewed by the San Antonio Express-News.

rage said...

I know a Plaintiff's lawyer from Beaumont who's now doing time in federal PMITA prison that would disagree with you. They went The Firm on him.

Only Plaintiff's lawyer in that town they've ever pegged (pardon the pun) correctly.

JTP said...

No doubt. Even with whistleblowers using up all of their lung power, regulatory bodies let Bernie Madoff scate for a long time. If the meltdown had not occured, he'd still be skating figure eights all the way to his Swiss Bank accounts.

White collar crime is difficult to prove and a lot of work for prosecutors. Real and perceived victims often fly below the radar. Victims are often embarassed at being hoodwinked, especially if they did something on the shady side themselves that gave the fraudster their opportunity. Usually the victim is pulled into a scam by the the promise of easy money. Since "white collar" crime is something most people can't identify with, the general electorate doesn't get as excited when a local or federal prosecutor says they're going after the bankers who syphon off money. They get more excitement for busting sex offenders and drug addicts because they are perceived as real "public safety" threats. When you get the electorate to buy into that logic, you get votes. Federal prosecutors like easy stats. Why work your tail off for a white collar "collar", when you can get much easier numbers by fishing in the "drug" pond? The exception to this for the most part has been the New York Atty. General. They were going after white collar crime years ago. Of course, that publicity also helped when election time came around.

Anonymous said...

Ofcourse the FED tolerates White Collar Crime more than drug offenses. Drug dealers don't have a lobby working for them...

Anonymous said...

Having anything to do with drugs is worse than stealing.

Isn't it?

Anonymous said...

@6:20 -- Not saying Drugs are a good thing. I was merely pointing out that business has a huge lobby going their way in States and federal legislatures. The very process of business purchasing legislators after their terms expire to lobby for them shows how irresposible our legislative system is.

Anonymous said...

Stealing is a real wrong.

Drug offenses are imagined, concocted, political, and humanly decreed "wrongs".

Stealing is worse. It made the big ten.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you. Stealing is a wrong that's even written in the bible, one of the ten commandments. Stealing is much worse than a drug charge in my opinion.