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NCJ Number: 68001 Find in a Library
Title: OPTIMAL SENTENCES FOR WHITE-COLLAR CRIMINALS
Journal: AMERICAN CRIMINAL LAW REVIEW  Volume:17  Issue:4  Dated:(SPRING 1980)  Pages:409-418
Author(s): R A POSNER
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 10
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: FINES FOR WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES ARE ARGUED AS BEING PREFERABLE TOO IMPRISONMENT.
Abstract: WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES ARE NONVIOLENT AND TYPICALLY COMMITTED BY AFFLUENT INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES. THEY INCLUDE FRAUD, PRICEFIXING, AND INCOME TAX EVASION. A SOCIAL COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS COMPARING FINING AND IMPRISONING THE WHITE-COLLAR OFFENDER FAVORS FINING, BECAUSE THE COST OF COLLECTING A FINE FROM AN OFFENDER WITH THE ABILITY TO PAY (AN IMPORTANT QUALIFICATION) IS LOWER THAN THE COST OF IMPRISONMENT. ON THE BENEFIT SIDE, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE IN PRINCIPLE BETWEEN THE TWO SANCTIONS. THE FINE FOR A WHITE-COLLAR CRIME CAN BE SET AT WHATEVER LEVEL IMPOSES THE SAME DEGREE OF HARDSHIP ON THE OFFENDER AS IMPRISONMENT, THUS PRODUCING THE SAME DETERRENCE. GIVEN THE SAME DETERRENT EFFECT, FINES ARE PREFERABLE TO IMPRISONMENT, BECAUSE FINES PRODUCE MONETARY GAIN FOR THE PUBLIC OR VICTIMS WITH LITTLE COST FOR ADMINISTRATION. IMPRISONMENT, ON THE OTHER HAND, IS A TOTAL DRAIN ON PUBLIC FUNDS. WHILE THERE CAN BE LITTLE CHALLENGE TO THE ARGUMENT THAT FINES TAX PUBLIC REVENUES MUCH LESS THAN IMPRISONMENT, THERE ARE MANY WHO ARGUE THAT FINES CANNOT CARRY THE EQUIVALENT DISUTILITY AND DETERRENCE OF IMPRISONMENT. THIS MAY BE TRUE FOR EXTENDED PRISON TERMS, BUT UNDER EXISTING OPTIMAL SENTENCES FOR WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES, THERE WOULD BE NO DIFFICULTY IN SETTING EQUIVALENT FINES. FOOTNOTES ARE PROVIDED. (RCB)
Index Term(s): Cost/Benefit Analysis; Deterrence effectiveness; Fines; Sentencing/Sanctions; White collar crime
Note: PRESENTED AT THE WHITE-COLLAR CRIME SYMPOSIUM, 1980
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=68001

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