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Problems With Sentencing for White Collar Crimes

October 13, 2016 | Written by Dan Margolis

Federal guidelines exist for how those convicted of activities like insider trading, financial fraud or racketeering in Ohio are to be penalized. The standard rule, according to The New York Times, is that the sentence for a white collar crime is determined based on how much the victims lost and how much the defendant gained. The more monetary harm done, the harsher the sentence. For example, when one man was found guilty of a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, he was sentenced to life in prison. On the other hand, a judge handed down a two-year prison term in a corruptions case involving a former state governor instead of the recommended six and a half years. Many people feel that such guidelines are very subjective and simplistic, and many judges feel they are not helpful enough.

Recommendations have been made to suggest level of participation and motive, which play a large role in many white collar crimes, should also be considered by judges. Doing this is projected to result in more relaxed sentences with far less jail time served.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a nonprofit organization, works to seek fairer sentences for crimes, including white collar crimes. To support its beliefs, FAMM launched the “Fit the Crime” program to focus on trying to get sentencing changes made and make people aware of what is happening in this area of the U.S. justice system. FAMM agrees with others that sentencing guidelines are too general and simple for white collar crimes because they often involve very complex situations and these circumstances are not being taken into account when rulings are made. Furthermore, the sentences many judges hand down are far more severe than sentences given for horrendous crimes, like murder and sexual abuse. FAMM is fighting to get the sentence to match the crime.

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