Crimes of the Middle Classes
White-Collar Offenders in the Federal Courts
White-collar criminals are often assumed to be wealthy and powerful individuals who receive lenient treatment from the courts. This book—a major study of convicted white-collar offenders in America—provides a radically different portrait of these criminals and their punishments. Weisburd, Wheeler, Waring, and bode argue that the majority of white-collar criminals come from the middle classes and that judges often punish wrongdoers of higher status more harshly than less socially privileged criminals.
Drawing from a large research project that had special access to confidential federal pre-sentence investigations, the authors are able to give a particularly rich and detailed view of white-collar crime—from securities fraud and anti-trust violations to embezzlement and tax fraud. Following offenders from their crimes through conviction and sentencing, their book provides a fresh look at a number of questions that have become central research and policy concerns. Fro example, they find that the most important factor that makes it possible to commit costly and damaging white-collar crimes is use of organizational resources. They state that, when sentencing white-collar criminals, judges consider the blameworthiness of defendants and the harm they inflict upon the community.
The authors argue that the vast middle of our increasingly bureaucratic society has both more opportunities for financial wrongdoing and more susceptibility to it. They predict that white-collar crimes committed by these Americans will grow in significance as the nation approaches the twenty-first century.