Criminal Law and Criminology: A Survey of Recent Books

Article excerpt

ECONOMIC CRIME

HANS SJOGREN & GORAN SKOGH EDS., NEW PERSPECTIVES ON ECONOMIC CRIME (Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar 2004) 168pp

Economic crime (defined as crime committed to gain profit within an otherwise legal business) is growing in its variety, complexity, and international scope, while law enforcement largely remains limited to the national level. Beyond traditional criminological fields, research in economic crime requires contribution from other sciences, such as business administration, economics, and information technology. Much of the study of the corporation as a criminal offender treats it as an individual offender and employs a cost-benefit economic analysis of crime and regulation (i.e., efficient regulation of crime requires imposition of cost to the offender greater than the benefit of committing the offense.) Recent literature has extended this analysis to the relation of control methods external to a corporation (e.g., government or market sanction) and a corporation's internal methods to control crime committed by its members. A key issue is whether the government should sanction the corporation as a whole, and therefore its shareholders, or if sanctions should be limited to the individual managers and employees implicated in the offense. Besides the instance of the corporation as a criminal perpetrator, other types of economic crime victimize the corporation (e.g., embezzlement or cybercrime), make business the object of crime (e.g., insider trading), or involve legal business as the by-product of organized crime. Issues requiting further research include optimal regulation methods and private precautionary measures. Concerns for efficiency, not only of content but of regulatory methods as well, led to the study of other enforcement regimes, such as administrative regulation and private civil litigation.

One contributor, considering when criminal law is the optimal enforcement method, notes that it is the most costly method both because of higher requirements of proof and procedural safeguards, and because of its burdensome sanctions on the defendants. Most societies use it as the method of last resort and reserve it for the most serious harms. Tension exists between general criminal law, which is concerned with individual fault, and economic regulatory offenses, which are usually concerned with strict liability and corporate action. A regulatory regime should seek to minimize the costs of regulation as well as the cost of unprevented harm. However, applications of the general model that the actor will refrain from economic crime if the cost imposed after apprehension (discounted by the probability of apprehension) exceeds the anticipated profit must consider that presently, in many kinds of economic crime, both the probability of apprehension and the consequent sanction are relatively low. Less coerceive, but also less costly, levels of intervention (e.g., formal warnings) may achieve efficient levels of compliance in many instances. But in instances of economic crime requiring full criminal prosecution, consideration should be given to greater sanctions, fewer procedural safeguards, or facilitating victims' compensation claims. Low sanction levels and detection rates also raise questions of efficient deterrence in the specific field of environmental criminal law. Incentives yet unstudied may be at work, such as the adverse publicity of prosecution. Other topics in the collection include insider fraud and tax compliance. The need for further historical research into economic crime is also discussed; it should be studied as a history of changing institutions, law enforcement, and ethical norms.

JUVENILES

THOMAS GRISSO, DOUBLE JEOPARDY: ADOLESCENT OFFENDERS WITH MENTAL DISORDERS (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994) 251pp

The juvenile justice system has not yet responded to the challenges to its custodial, due process, and public safety obligations presented by offenders with mental disorders. …