It’s Time to End Murder by Spreadsheet

There were 13 deaths already this year on Rikers Island, while white-collar criminals are rarely even shackled while waiting for their trial. When the Chamber of Commerce stepped up its campaign this month to suspend laws that would hold the Sackler family responsible for the deaths they caused and benefited from by promoting overprescription of opioid drugs, it became a poor man in one Covid wheelchair. killed. He was charged with gun possession and killed the 13th Rikers for failing to afford $ 100,000 bail.

Two separate and unequal criminal justice systems mean we don’t have justice. A criminal justice system is for the rich and connected wherever Prosecutors and judges hesitate, negotiate and when they even think about filing a criminal complaint, are trying to come to an agreement. The other is for poor blacks, browns, and vulnerable communities where you can be sent into a death trap like Rikers before trial. In 2018, less than 40 people Large company employees received jail sentences for every federal white-collar crime, while nearly 20,000 people were federally convicted of drug-related crimes. More people went to Rikers yesterday than were ever charged with causing the financial crisis.

This means that we need two types of reforms: as well as ending mass incarceration, adjusting prosecutorial practices and incentives, and reducing prison terms, we also need to Call our Public Prosecutor’s Office. Failure to stop theft, abuse and suffering by criminals with spreadsheets and fancy fraud systems leads directly to impoverished communities and fewer resources for public investment. It also creates a crisis for the rule of law.

When you think about it, the rule of law is a radical promise. It is an obligation to ensure that whoever you are and who you know, the same rules apply; that the massive police force of the state is used impartially. The opposite of the rule of law is not arbitrary tyranny, but rather treating people differently on the basis of race, connections, money, and social class.

In order to achieve the rule of law, we need a uniform standard of justice for all. We need to build a system in which we treat a wealthy CEO charged with securities fraud, wage theft or monopoly the same as someone in Washington Heights who is charged with aggravated theft.

These are not just two sides of the same coin; you are connected. The excessive incarceration of poor communities and communities of color is fundamentally linked to the undermining of elite economic crimes. For a long time, crimes such as wage theft and workers’ compensation fraud were on the books but were not treated as “real” crimes that deserved the same rage. A Shoplifter taking underwear a Walmart is being chased by armed police, while an employer who steals cash from workers by paying less than they owe any fine than that Cost of doing business. Worst of all, top-level financial crime – the kind that crashed the economy in 2008 – is still seen as too risky to even touch.

Death by spreadsheet is still death. The suffering caused by white-collar crime is enormous and has a significant financial cost for victims – and society at large. When workers are unsafe because their employers intentionally break health and safety laws, they can get sick, anxious, and depressed; they can lose their ability to work, their ability to thrive, and even their lives. When large corporations deliberately distribute harmful or fraudulent products, the criminals may sit in a remote C-suite and watch the damage like in a video game, but they still choose to addictive people and extract their value by creating dangerous ones Offer products.

Even something like antitrust law that might sound harmless today – why reach for handcuffs for a merger? – was originally understood as an essentially criminal law. As was previously known, monopoly is just a polite word for highway robbery. In fact, the growing monopoly of our society has itself undermined the rule of law as governments / regulators hesitate to enforce basic rules, knowing that doing so could lead to the collapse of an industry that is in the grip of some companies.

There are reforms New York could pass that will make enforcement easier, but frankly, if the will is there – when prosecutors start seeing white collar criminals for what they are, rather than members of the same elite – we have already the tools. Much of the change lies in our habits and rules regarding the laws of the mighty: tech and hospital CEOs breaking antitrust laws, billionaires cheating their taxes, real estate titans using scams to get rid of renters.

This is already beginning to change – but it needs to change faster, especially at the highest power levels. More and more attorneys general and district attorneys are prosecuting workplace crimes. President Biden’s Justice Department has pledged to invest more resources in white collar crime. The biggest change has to be cultural. When we let elites get away with fines and scolding, we tell them – and anyone who watches – that the law doesn’t really apply as long as you can hire a law firm with white shoes. We are undermining trust in government and democracy. Yes, these cases are difficult to track and investigate, and they require more resources. But our legal system should be based on what is right, not just what is easy.


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