The National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), working through a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice, in 2010 surveyed national attitudes toward white collar crime, estimated by the FBI to cost between 300 and 660 billion dollars per year. When asked if the government was allocating sufficient resources to combat white-collar crime, 43% of respondents to the NW3C survey mentioned above said government was not. A solid majority of those responding believed that white-collar crime has contributed to the current economic crisis, with 70% finding it had contributed and only 13% saying it had not.
One of the issues related to white-collar crime is how it should be defined. Are white-collar crimes a type of crime, or are white-collar crimes defined by who commits them? Cynthia Barnett, writing for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, discusses this issue in the FBI Bulletin The Measurement of White Collar Crime Using Uniform Crime Reporting Data.http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/nibrs/nibrs_wcc.pdf (highlight and paste into your browser).
Corporate scandals in the later 90s and early 21st century resulted in a tightening of sentencing guidelines for white-collar criminals, and sentences have been increasingly harsh. Some now say they are too harsh for nonviolent crimes, and that many of these individuals are not only first offenders, but are unlikely to commit crimes again.
What do you think? Is a white-collar crime descriptive of a certain kind of crime, or a certain kind of criminal? Are we tough enough on white-collar crime? Are sentences for white-collar crime too harsh or too lenient?