Project #34126 - Corporate Crime Under Attack

Read the book Corporate Crime Under Attack, about the Ford Pinto case and answer these questions:

Chapters 1-3

1.   On page 44 we see the following quote:

"The idea that we should be easier on people whose crimes mark them as brutal and dangerous to life and limb is crazy. Yet, that is the notion that goes with the idea that somebody who broke the latest rule invented by the bureaucrats committed the worst crime. Even as we sizzle about the public officials grabbing for bribes in the latest FBI "Sting" expose', we ought to face the facts. They are crooked bums but they aren't axe murderers. Neither one deserves much sympathy, perhaps, but reality demands a sane priority between people clearly capable of blowtorch murder and bloody abuse to get what they want and the guy who has a chance to pick up some extra cash effortlessly and can't resist it…. We cannot afford to indulge in fantasies that tickle our prejudices. We need to be realistic about dealing with all types of crime and the record speaks for itself. Crime inflicted with a total disregard for the physical well-being of the victim are the most dangerous to us all… and those who commit such are the most persistent criminals among us. Those are proven facts--not ideological fantasies."

What does the author of this quote mean? How does he/she characterize white collar crime? Is this an accurate depiction?

2.    What key aspect of the creation of our government has added to the ease with which corporations can commit white collar crime? [Hint: Chapter 3]

3.    What is the importance of depicting or "seeing" a corporation as a person for our understanding of white collar crime?

4.    The treatment or punishment of corporations who engaged in white collar crime in this country over the past 200 years has changed. How were corporations treated in the beginning? Why? How are they treated now? Why the change?

Chapters 4-7

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the charge reckless homicide vs. murder?
  2. On page 211, Ford's attorneys argued "There are numerous examples in the Criminal Code where the legislature has used the word 'person' to refer exclusively to a human being. See, e.g., the section prohibiting rape….('A person who knowingly or intentionally has sexual intercourse…') Thus, although corporations may generally be covered by the definition of 'persons,' there are clearly crimes-essentially crimes of violence against other human beings-where it is irrational to read the statutes as applying to corporations." Do you agree with the Ford attorneys, should existing statutes written primarily about individuals not be applied to corporations? Why or why not?
  3. It was pointed out several times in this second section of the book, that if convicted on criminal charges, Ford's punishment could be no more than a $30,000 fine. For the most part, criminal convictions against corporations carry less "punishment" than civil convictions. Should we be looking to prosecute corporations on criminal charges then? Or stick to civil charges? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
  4. On Page 250 [which by the way is the page that gets my blood boiling more than any other page in the book for some reason], the following argument appears: "Wheeler contended that gearing up the criminal justice system to attack corporations either would lessen the system's capacity to deal with common-law offenses or would require substantial budgetary increases so that the state could hire the personnel required to undertake the fight against corporate illegality. 'It is far from clear,' he concluded, 'that it is socially desirable to devote already scarce police, prosecutorial, and judicial resources to the criminal prosecution of product manufacturers.'" Respond to these comments. If criminal justice resources cannot be increased [and let's say they cannot] should we take criminal justice resources away from street crime and put them towards white collar crime? Why or why not? And if we should, where would you take them away from?
  5. On page 326, Braithwaite argues: "The tendency automatically to attribute traditional rights and due process protections to corporations simply because they are available to individuals is legal anthropomorphism at its worst. Corporations cannot have a confession physically coerced out of them under the bright lights at a police station. Corporations do not stand in the dock without benefit of legal counsel. When corporations do suffer at the hands of the state, the suffering is diffused among many corporate actors--shareholders, managers, workers. The extreme privations suffered by individual victims of state oppression which justify extreme protections of individuals rights are not felt within the corporation." Should corporations be extended the same rights as individuals? Why or why not?
  6. And Finally…. I find when I read this book that each side sways me as they present their case. In other words, I do not in any way find this to be a cut and dried case with an obvious answer. Given ALL the information presented in this book [not just the information presented to the jury], do you believe that Ford should have been convicted of reckless homicide? Why or Why not? And if convicted, given the ability to create any sentence you wanted to, what would have been your punishment for Ford?

 

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Due By (Pacific Time) 06/28/2014 12:00 am
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