Discuss Why Corporate And White Collar Crimes Are Rarely Dealt With In Criminal Courts Culture And Identity Essay

1952 words - 8 pages

Discuss why corporate and white-collar crimes are rarely dealt with in criminal courts. Is this an example of class-based crime or can it be explained in some other way?

In recent years, inconsistencies and inadequacies of current criminal and civil penalties for corporate or white-collar crime have been brought to the fore. Sutherland (1945) defined white-collar crime as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in course of his occupation”. Similarly, corporate crime, according to Clinard (1983) is an “illegal corporate behaviour that is a form of collective rule breaking in order to achieve the organizational goals”. Although the prevalence of white-collar crimes is increasing, few of the perpetrators are convicted in the criminal courts. ‘Blue-collar’ offenders, who commit more common crimes such as theft, robbery, assault and drug charges typically have less power, lack capital to employ adequate legal representation and engage in crimes for which guilt is easily proven. In the context of white-collar crimes, justice is inevitably balanced against other considerations– ensuring public safety, minimising costs of administrating justice at the expense of tax-payers money and continuing the supply of fast moving consumer goods. Powerful criminals can use their power and public status to prevent prosecution. Additionally, powerful criminals can disperse blame throughout the social class hierarchy and escape individual conviction by holding the business entity responsible.

The high volume of white-collar crimes makes it difficult to apply consistent and equitable punishment. Rather, the justice system will ‘single out’ a limited number of particularly corrupt cases for the purposes of deterrence. Corporation crimes are typically complex by nature and therefore, exceptionally costly at both the investigation and mitigation stages to which even the wealthiest of governments cannot afford. It is not in the regulatory agencies best interest to prosecute guilty parties when the cooperation of those parties benefits society’s wellbeing through the provision of vital services and goods. If, for example, a large pharmaceutical drug company are putting the community at risk through negligent quality control procedures then criminal prosecution will effectively bankrupt society of these goods for the sake of litigated justice. This white-collar crime will often be better resolved by offering the drug company immunity from prosecution on the condition that other measures are implemented such as a nationwide recall on defective products, dismissal of responsible staff and revision of safety procedures. These measures achieve deterrence and public resolution without limiting this resource to the public. The moral dilemma between choosing prosecution against corporate criminals and the broader community’s best interests is exemplified in the after-effects of the thalidomide disaster in Germany (Knightley 1979). Nine...

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