According to The Sentencing Project, an estimated 2.2 million people in the U.S. currently call one of our nation’s jails or prisons home. More than any other country, the U.S. relies heavily upon incarceration as a means of deterrence and punishment for criminal-related activities. However, considering that the number of people in the U.S. who are incarcerated has increased 500 percent during the last 30 years, locking people up does not appear to be an effective solution to fighting crime.
Most Minnesota residents likely believe that a bed at one of our nation’s prisons is reserved for only the most violent and potentially dangerous of offenders. However, in truth, 2011 statistics show that approximately 47 percent of individuals who are incarcerated were convicted of non-violent crimes.
Individuals who are convicted of committing white collar crimes are counted among the significant number of non-violent offenders. In many cases, individuals who are serving prison sentences for crimes like tax, health care and insurance fraud have no criminal record and pose little to no threat of committing future crimes.
Sentencing guidelines for white collar crimes have been the subject of much controversy and debate. Arguments over how so-called white collar criminals should be punished only intensified after the subprime mortgage crisis and resulting global financial downturn. However in many cases, when it comes to white collar crime, the punishment does not fit the crime.
Individuals who are facing criminal charges related to a financial crime would be wise to take such charges extremely seriously and to contact a criminal defense attorney. Current sentencing guidelines for white collar crimes are based upon not only a defendant’s financial gains, but also the resulting financial losses which can be significant. As a result, even individuals who play a minor-role in a larger fraud scheme may end up spending years behind bars.
Source: New York Times, “Elusive Middle Ground in Punishment of White-Collar Criminals,” Jan. 12, 2015