Lying, Cheating, Stealing: White Collar Crime

1080 words - 5 pages

Lying, Cheating, Stealing: White-Collar Crime

“Lying, Cheating, Stealing. That’s white-collar crime in a nutshell.” That is how the Federal Bureau of Investigation describes crime committed by corporations (FBI—White-Collar Crime). These crimes include fraud, identity theft, internet swindles, money laundering, price-fixing, embezzlement, political corruption, police brutality, and much more. Conklin (2010) defines white-collar crime as “any illegal act, punishable by a criminal sanction, that is committed in the course of a legitimate occupation or pursuit by a corporation or by an otherwise respectable individual of high social standing.”

Who are white-collar criminals? Who ...view middle of the document...

This differs from those whom we consider blue-collar criminals. Some think that blue-collar criminals are of a low social class, uneducated, probably minorities, and/or drug addicted. They types of crime committed by both types of criminals are vastly different and in most cases complete opposites.
Blue-collar criminals commit visible crimes, such as robbery, burglary, DUIs, assault, the crimes that we see every day in our newspapers. Their crimes affect one person at a time. Many people think that these are crimes of opportunity or desperation. Whereas, each white-collar crime “can affect millions of citizens over a long period of time” (Balsmeier & Kelly, 1996). These types of crimes seem to be crimes of greed that can jeopardize our society as a whole. The cost differences between these are enormous. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, white-collar crime cost $300 billion each year as opposed to blue-collar crime that cost $525 million each year. It appears that white-collar crime is far more destructive and harmful to society than blue-collar crime. Lives are destroyed “by the unlawful actions of a few whose need for power and profit resulted in illegal, unethical, and immoral acts” (Salinger, 2005). A white-collar criminal cause more lost jobs and causes more bankruptcies than a blue-collar criminal ever could, and yet they are viewed differently.

Many people believe that white-collar criminals are given preferential treatment during sentencing. For example, would bank robbers receive a harsher sentence than bank executives who committed fraud in the same bank? White-collar criminals tend to receive sentences such as home detention, community service, or minimum-security prisons. For example, according to ABC News and 20/20, Bernie Madoff wrote about his incarceration, “As you can imagine, I am quite the celebrity, and am treated like a Mafia don.” “They call me either Uncle Bernie or Mr. Madoff. I can’t walk anywhere without someone shouting their greetings and encouragement, to keep my spirit up.” “It’s really quite sweet, how concerned everyone is about my well being, including the staff ... It’s much safer here than walking the streets of New York.”

There are two reasons for the disparity between white-collar crime sentencing and blue-collar crime sentencing. The first reason why blue-collar crimes seem to be punished more harshly is that many of these crimes, such as...

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