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Friday, March 11, 2011

Should White Collars do the time? Justice Served?

By Briana Booker

Debate 2: Longer imprisonment
After reading “Cook the Books, Get Life in Prison: Is Justice Served?” I strongly believe justice is served by sentencing white collar offenders to long prison terms because split sentencing (short term prison sentences followed by probation supervision) does not guarantee that rehabilitation of white collar criminals will be achieved or that they will never return to their tainted lifestyle of immediate awards at the expense of society. Longer prison terms will assure society that white collar criminals do not have the tools, opportunities or social networking to accomplish their victim harming crimes because jail keeps them isolated from mainstream society, while teaching them how it feels to be at a disadvantage.                                                         

The white collar offenders, when given the option of split sentencing are more likely to keep to their bad habits because the short term prison punishment is not harsh in comparison to their deeds and probation has the ability to make white collar offenders more skillful criminals by allowing them to be in close range to easy victim target groups.                                                       
It is common fact that white collar criminals have tremendously violated the social contract by financially harming others. We live in a capitalist society where money can be the deciding factor between life and death, no matter if a person is morally good or bad. White collar criminals are educated, well-dressed, appear to be law-abiding citizens and come from highly diverse backgrounds but under their squeaky clean image they are fraudulent thieves. This makes them very dangerous criminals because it is difficulty to profile them and difficulty to welcome and trust them after they return back to the community. Short term prison sentencing will only allow white collar criminals to learn how to disguise their corruption better so they are less likely to get caught again. Short term sentencing allows them to learn different methods to disguise their corruption on the basis of the rational choice and routine activities theories.
The rational choice theory implies that white collar criminals will rationally decide to go forth with a criminal act based on obtaining immediate rewards. Short term sentencing displays that white collar criminals can commit crimes and get only a slap on the wrist for doing the crimes. This will make them more likely to do similar crimes more often.                                          
White collar criminals are not mentally impaired; they know that they commit crimes for social prestige and material goods. They are more than willing to harm others to accomplish their goals. It is never about the means but completely about the ends. This is the reason why longer prison sentences are necessary. White collar criminals will be spending time losing opportunities to gain large amounts of money and high quality goods because prisons will monitor their every move and their freedom to do what they please, when they please will be stripped away from them.                                                                                                                                                      
As the article mentions, white collar criminals are highly sensitive to deterrence. Long term prison sentences will be a powerful message to white collar criminals because they feel the pain their victims feel of not being in control of what they hold valuable such their homes and fortunes. As for the routine activities theory, these white collar criminals are motivated offenders, have large target groups, and do not have to see directly the people or the people’s properties they harm. White collar criminals see their own actions as just a part of survival not anything corrupt. The reason they see their action in this manner is because they see society as a conflict paradigm (competition and conflict in interest will always exist) inevitably. This makes them being placed on probation, rather than being in prison long-term, very worrisome and alarming because probation consist of community surveillance and service.                            
Surveillance not within the walls of a prison is difficult to achieve. The criminals might be watched by authoritative figures but being placed back into the communities they have harmed increases their potential to return back to the temptation of committing white collar crimes again. Reintegration through service can be a challenging task. Society wants white collar criminals to pay restitution to the community. It is expected that the previous criminals will become more responsible and law-abiding members of society, but this tactic is too risky and highly unlikely. Once a person is a con artist, he or she is always a con artist.                                      
In fact, Society should not have previous white collar criminal offenders pay restitution in such places as elderly nursing homes or places dealing with any type of economic relations because these environments and people are too vulnerable to interact with previous white collar inmates. White collar criminals being in close vicinity with these victim target groups is not a wise choice because these criminals have either purposely, knowingly, recklessly or negligently have done crimes to their communities. During long-term sentencing they are prevented from physically and financially harming large populations groups and also feel the burden of not living a lavish lifestyle, which protects law-abiding citizens and at the same time gives them justice.                                                                                                                                                          

White collar criminals should not be privileged inmates, but receive the same treatment as any other type of criminal in prison. Most prisoners are young, minorities, undereducated and from lower income families. Since these inmates are similar in traits to the groups white collar criminals have harmed, they will learn directly how their actions affect others and how it feels to be in the same predicament as the working-class, whom are affected by their corrupt actions. Long prison terms will accomplish this and justice for victims because long term sentences are fair punishment for the loss of profits society suffered in time, livelihood and material goods. Now the white collar criminals can be disadvantage by their own deeds. They lose their prestige and freedom, everything they have worked for in life because of greed. Long prison terms are society’s eye for eye retribution. This is justice. It is by the people and for the people. And for this reason the criminal law enforcement must enforce long-term prison sentencing to white collar criminals, in the name of security and the best interest of society. 

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