Sunday, April 15, 2007

Crime and punishment

My assignment for this next (and basically last) paper is the following question: "Should white-collar criminals receive sentences that are similar to those imposed on street criminals? Why or why not?"

I have to write on my own thoughts, but I can be influenced. Suggestions welcome. My initial thought is that there should be three classes of crimes: 1) Non-violent, 2) White-collar (fraud, etc) and 3) Violent.

Questions that come to mind are: What should the punishment be? Should white-collar criminals share cells with violent criminals? What about the DUI offender? What if the DUI resulted in a death?

Should the amount stolen factor in? If so, what about the guy who doesn't personally profit from a white collar crime, but his company does?

What about eco-crimes? I'm no tree hugger, but someone throws chemicals into one of the beautiful lakes around here, I don't want him to go without any punishment.

Also, what is the purpise of the punishment? Is it to rehabilitate? Deterance? Do either work? Or is it just to keep him/her from doing it again?

I have some time, but if my regular readers (and any irregular readers) want to post some ideas, I would appreciate some ideas.

5 comments:

hydralisk said...

Also, what is the purpise of the punishment? Is it to rehabilitate? Deterance? Do either work? Or is it just to keep him/her from doing it again?

Tough questions. I think in our system we aim for all three. The last one is the only one I am sure even works.

I'm not a big fan of the prison system. Costs taxpayers a pretty penny and comes with all sorts of unwanted side effects. I wish we could scrap the prisons altogether and replace them with fines/corporal punishment, but maybe that isn't realistic either.

John Kaiser said...

The bigger question is whether most non-violent crimes should be crimes in the first place.

Randy Barnett said...

John said "The bigger question is whether most non-violent crimes should be crimes in the first place."

Are you talking about marijuana usage (wheret I hear the most about legalization) orother drugs? Or are you expanding to white-collar crimes such as accounting fraud, insider trading, etc? Can you be more specific?

Hyrdalisk,
You said "The last one is the only one I am sure even works." I assume you meant my comment "just to keep him/her from doing it again?"

Unfortunately, when we lock someone away it isn't always for as long as they need. They just get out and do the same all over again. For a case close to me, search on "Jerry Inman". I hope he never gets out this time.

hydralisk said...

For as long as we keep them in, I mean. Yeah, often it ain't long enough.

Neil said...

I think the answer has to factor in the purpose of prison (punishment, rehab, protect society). The punishment piece would be influenced by the nature of the crime. For example, identity theft or computer viruses may be non-violent crimes, but they have huge direct and even bigger indirect costs because of the incredible inconvenience they cause. Those perpetrators need to know that the consequences will be severe.

Side note - I recently got involved Kairos prison ministry and have been really impressed with what groups like they and Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship have done. They have found better ways to dramatically reduce recidivism and improve the cultures within prison.