Why Harsh White-Collar Sentences, Like 14 Years For An Oil Trader, Are Totally Justified

Matthew Kelley asks whether the 14-year sentence for the former head of El Paso Corp.’s natural gas trading business isn’t excessive; my feeling is that it makes a certain amount of sense.

For one thing, there are lots of excessive sentences in US jurisprudence, and there’s no reason why white-collar crimes should be exempted from that phenomenon. Indeed, the opposite is arguably the case: in the case of most crimes, it’s pretty obvious in the wake of the crime that a crime has taken place, and as a result a police investigation is immediately launched. Much of the attraction of white-collar crime, by contrast, lies in the fact that if it works, there’s a very good chance that no one will ever know that a crime ever happened at all.

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