The interest in white collar crime dates back to the 1920s, although the research resulting from White Collar Crime was started during the depression years of the 1930s. The initial public treatment of the subject matter occurred when Sutherland titled his presidential speech to the American Sociological Society in the year 1939 “The White Collar Criminal. Speech” He was actually drawn to the subject in his search for a broad theory of crime.
The common explanations in those days (and also today) stressed that poverty and other pathological social circumstances, are not generally caused by crime if crimes were also committed by people of high social status and respectability (Guy 2007). According to the Justice Department in the US “White-collar crimes shall comprise those classes of non-violent unlawful activities that mainly involve traditional notions of deception, deceit, manipulation, concealment, breach of trust, illegal circumvention or subterfuge. ” The Department of Justice has recently promoted the initiative that enforcement of federal crimes ought to be uniform.
However, it is highly dubious that federal prosecutors will pass on millions (or any) indictments of senior politicians for these crimes (Associated Press 2006). In spite of the rhetoric, the decision to prosecute is inevitably discretionary, how do prosecutors decide whom to prosecute? Often, the choice reflects current politics–and today’s criminal du jour is the “white-collar” felon. However when most people talk about dynamically prosecuting white-collar crime, they do not mean jailing those senior politicians despite the fact that such politicians defraud their countries of billions of dollars.
What accounts for the variation in treatment is that the department of Justice formal definition of white-collar crime ignores economic status or class. But the fact is that in white-collar cases, such differences do influence choices about whether or not to prosecute. The Government prosecutors are not likely to charge the upper-class politicians and businessman than a middle-class middle aged man who has no political connections. This clearly reflects the socialist origin of the white-collar crime notion. The war on white-collar crime thus unwittingly starts from and embraces a class-based sociological perception of crime (Guy 2007).
Public interest in white-collar crime grew fast in the 1970s, rivaling the recognition street crime had received in the previous decade. Government prosecutors gave it greater priority than in the past. Investigation targets included corrupt politicians, businessmen, and such business activities as international business inducement, environmental pollution, and the manufacture of unsafe products. The renewed concern was motivated at least in part by the detection of corruption and other illegal activities at the highest levels of government, and by a the rising sensitivity to dangerous business practices.
This growth in interest was big enough that it could be fairly called a social movement (Gilbert 2006). When the speed of scholarship on white-collar crime renewed, it became clear that the broad range of phenomena suggested by the idea had to be broken down into components. So much interest was on the nature of the offender in that the actual criminal behavior went unexamined. It appeared to make modest sense to include under a single rubric as diverse as set of activities such as land swindles, bank embezzlement, bribery, price-fixing and fraudulent loan applications.
The desire that gives rise to typological attempts or efforts is the felt need to put order into the huge range of behaviors at issues (Associated Press 2006). The laws which define white-collar crime, passed by governing bodies for various reasons at various times, are a patchwork. Significant as they may be for trial, the legal classes are of limited value for investigative purposes. A given legal offense may comprise a wide range of actual behaviors; bank fraud, for example, may range from a simple stealing by a bank cashier or clerk to a complex fake or fraudulent loan arranged by a trust officer to be given to politicians.
Basically the same deeds may be punished under laws as different as those governing wire and mail fraud, securities fraud, false claims and statements. Typologies permits one to see some of the resemblances between crimes as different as price-fixing and bribery that share the element of collusive activity(SM 2008). The basic assumption of this type of analysis, still to be verified is that parallels in deeds may suggest parallels in either the underlying processes producing such deeds or in the ways of finding and enforcement brought to bear upon them.
Such effort is likely to be only partly successful unless there is greater accord on the core properties of white-collar crime that are committed by politicians. To the degree that the legal categories are a function of anxiety not reflected in the causal conduct—a concern, e. g. that the conduct be accessible by federal authorities, or that regulatory groups can police it, the typologies that focus on underlying conduct may be hastily dismissive of the significant role played by the legal categorization itself (Associated Press 2006).
A second drift is to stress not behavior but its consequences brought about by the criminal activities done by politicians. This trend revive issues that occupied law reformers in the twentieth century—a concern for the power of politicians and the offences they commit. As of the late nineteenth century on, harms brought about by the production and sale of contaminated goods and related activities that were influenced by politicians were recognized as strict liability crimes—criminal actions not requiring evidence of a guilty mind.
During the twentieth century these trend, and many others that were later recognized to pose a similar threat, came increasingly to be the subject of government regulation, which was seen as a more effective device for protecting the interest of the public(SM 2008). The rediscovery of the power of politicians to inflict physical harm and economic injury to countries has made some scholars to focus their attention to certain political offenses. The main concern here is the actions taken by the politicians that led to economic or physical hardship on the general public.
A big number of analysts thus speak of politicians as offenders of “political deviance,” and of illegalities done through the political form. This is as a response to a society in which politicians are major actors, and though it reflects experience in the US, both the notion of white-collar crime and concern with political and governmental offenses are found all over the world(Gilbert 2006). The focus on political offenses carries with it enduring concerns of law and policy.
One is the issue of the standard by which individual acts are to be judged i. e. should ministers be sanctioned for failure to oversee middle-level officials implicated in wrongdoing? Should severe penalty be employed, as in other earlier public-welfare offenses? How should penalties be distributed between government ministers and middle-level officials? When the focus is on politician himself/herself, there is the question of how best to guard against harmful political practices without stifling political innovation and creativity.
For instance, should unwanted behavior by politicians be discouraged through increased penalties against the implicated politician? Or will it be more effective to control political wrongdoing via imposing serious laws that govern the conducts of politicians in any country? These concerns have made the treatment of the offenses by politicians to remain even more fraught with complex policy choices. In conclusion the basis of the “white-collar crime” concept is derived from a socialist, anti-business point of view that defines the term by the group of those it stigmatizes.
Unless proper laws to curb these white collar crimes committed by politicians are put into place, then the same politicians that were elected by the people will continue using their powers and influences to exploit the same people who put them in their positions. This meddling in the law distorts the justice legal system into a simple tool for achieving narrow political gains (Associated Press 2006). References Associated Press (2006). New heaven register, Perez faces bribery charge related to home renovations. Retrieved on 12 February 2009 from http://www.
globalpolitician. com/23411-race Gilbert Geis, Henry N. Pontell, (2006). International Handbook of White-collar and Corporate Crime, Springer, New York, Guy White (2007). White-Collar Crime: History of an Idea – The Evolution of White-collar Crime. Retrieved on 12 February 2009, from http://law. jrank. org/pages/2312/White-Collar-Crime-History-an-Idea-evolution-white-collar-crime. html SM Kieffer (2008) Security Journal – Overcoming Moral Hurdles. Retrived on 12 February 2009 from www. palgrave-journals. com/sj/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/8350087a. html