Why Are Sentences in White Collar Crimes Cases Often Significantly Less Than for More Traditional Street Crimes?
Judges and many in the legal system tend to see white-collar criminals - especially Caucasian white-collar criminals - as being good people who made a mistake, while the poor and minorities are more likely to have their crime seen as a reflection of their bad character.
Should imprisonment be a commonly used sentence for white-collar criminals? A mounting body of theory argues that monetary fines can have a deterrent effect equivalent to that of imprisonment for at least certain classes of offenders, and that since it is less costly for the system (saving money through fines rather than paying it out through costs of confinement) the preferred sanction will nearly always be a fine rather than imprisonment.
This type of crime also harms coworkers because someone will get credit for work they have not done. The white-collar criminal may seem more hardworking or diligent than their peers, and this could attract incentives like promotions, salaries or other perks.
Deterrence theory, strictly conceived, does not look retrospectively at an offender's conduct for justification; its view is prospective, justifying a sanction as a means to reduce future wrongdoing.
Marks, J. (2012). A matter of ethics: understanding the mind of a white-collar criminal. Financial Executive, November, 31-34. Web.
Naso, R. (2012). When money and morality collide: White collar crime and the paradox of integrity. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 26(2), 241-254. Web.