White-Collar Criminal: The Offender in Business and the Professions

By Gilbert Geis | Go to book overview

V WHITE-COLLAR OFFENSES AND THE LEGAL PROCESS

Most forms of both traditional criminal behavior and white-collar crime are said to be outlawed because they injure persons who neither bargain for nor merit such harm or deprivation. More penetrating analysis, however, would seem to support the view that the imposition of criminal sanctions reflects, in large measure, historical circumstances and social values, including values related to the kinds of harm that people rightfully should be protected against. Air pollution, intrafamilial psychological torture, by-products of industrial freedom (decisions, for instance, regarding whether to close a plant or to relocate or to hire or fire persons with certain kinds of skills), access to medical resources, rights regarding use or destruction of what is defined as one's own property (such as cattle or grain or a house), and a myriad number of similar items are all usually well within legal boundaries in the United States, although they may produce harm to individuals or to the social system much more overwhelming than that brought about by other acts defined as criminal.

It is in this sense that the question of which kinds of behavior should

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