Rethinking White-Collar Crime

Rethinking White-Collar Crime

Rethinking White-Collar Crime

Rethinking White-Collar Crime

Synopsis

This is a review and synthesis of the literature on white-collar crime. It is an attempt to encourage critical thought about the nature of crime, law, and criminal justice by examining white-collar crime. One of the unique themes of the work is an ongoing comparison between white-collar and conventional crime with the implication that learning about white-collar crime simultaneously teaches us something about conventional crime and criminal justice.

Excerpt

As I write this brief introduction in the fall of 1993, the Mollen Commission has just completed two weeks of hearings on police corruption in New York City, where it disclosed how rogue officers were dealing drugs and brutalizing dealers and innocent citizens alike, especially in minority neighborhoods. Prudential Securities, the nation's fourth largest brokerage firm, has agreed to pay restitution and fines totaling more than $371 million for defrauding hundreds of thousands of customers over the last decade. A federal judge in Philadelphia is considering whether a proposed settlement involving 6.3 million General Motors (GM) pickup trucks is adequate. GM still denies the trucks, with side-mounted gasoline tanks, are defective and refuses to recall them, but it has offered owners a $1,000 coupon toward future purchases of GM trucks. After seven years of defying a presidential order that barred government contracts with companies that defraud the federal government, the U.S. Agriculture Department has agreed to comply with the directive. The case in question involved 52 U.S. dairies, including some of the largest in the country, which had been convicted of price-fixing and bidrigging on federal contracts for the school lunch program in the late 1980s. Contrary to presidential directive, the Agriculture Department continued to do business with these convicted corporate offenders. Finally, Michael Milken, who recently served nearly two years in federal prison for securities fraud, is teaching a management course for future M.B.A.s at UCLA this semester and is also working on developing an educational television network.

These seemingly disparate events underscore some of the ideas and themes I will pursue in this book. They highlight not only the diversity of white-collar crime, but also the distinctive manner in which society responds to white-collar offenders--what some regard as a double standard of justice. Additionally, these events reveal the relative absence of shaming in association with much of white-

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