Sunday, September 12, 2010

No Breaks for White Collar Crime!

I see that ex-Illinois governor George Ryan is asking for an early release from prison because his wife is ill and not expected to live more than three more years. Ryan's been in prison for less than two years of his 6.5 year sentence for bribery, tax evasion, and other charges. I say, throw away the key to his cell. White collar crimes don't get treated nearly as seriously as they should be.

I have much less sympathy for the white collar criminal than I do for many who go to jail for crimes of passion or desperation. Typical white collar criminals have plenty of money, considerable education, and lots of social contacts. They do their crimes not out of what one might consider "necessity" but, rather, out of simple greed or a compulsion to outsmart the system. I put George Ryan in the same stinking boat as Bernie Madoff and a host of others who have knowingly misused their positions of trust to enrich themselves at great cost to innocent others.

If prison time meted out for punishment or deterrence is to have any meaning, then it must be served. If Ryan is released early under standard "good behavior" terms, that's fine with me. However, external events should have no bearing. Those are the contingencies Ryan should have considered when he took the risks that landed him behind bars.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree.

A lot of times the effects of white-collar crime are as devastating as the effects of violent crime.

I'm thinking specifically of the Enron scandal that wiped out people's retirement funds and ruined so many lives. Those were white-collar crimes, but the effects were far more devastating than a robbery or purse-snatching would have been.