Wednesday, June 29, 2016


America's beleaguered criminal justice system claims to deter future crime by giving proportionally greater prison time for crimes that harm people or cause significant economic loss. In fact the Federal Sentencing Guidelines base most punishment on this criteria. 
Volkswagen's Cost-Benefit analysis for Gold
should result in prison time for executives.

Yet the truth is that significant economic crimes or crimes that bring physical harm to vast numbers of people rarely result in prison. This is true because the criminals who commit these crimes often benefit from being shielded as mere workers of corporations. But it's important to remember that when a corporation commits a crime one or more members of that company made the decision to commit fraud after weighing a cost-benefit analysis.

Let's look at the cost-benefit analysis of Volkswagen as an example.  The company admits that it long-term committed fraud in Europe and in America by rigging the anti-polution software on eleven million diesel vehicles causing approximately one million tons of additional toxic air pollution. Further, the addition pollution is estimated to have caused the deaths of 40 people per year for 8 years for a total of 320 deaths in the United States alone. Beyond these numbers of dead countless men, women and children suffered physical harm because of Volkswagen's greed including most anyone who walked outside in any urban area.

Volkswagen has agreed to pay substantial penalties. But is that enough to deter future companies from doing similar crimes?Should the leaders of Volkswagen be allowed to escape prison time just because they're part of a corporation? The Justice Department should make a criminal investigation of the leaders of Volkswagen a top priority. Let's see how well Volkswagen can avoid the victim loss calculations of economic crimes or reduce the valuation of goods under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

If the Justice Department finds that the leaders of Volkswagen committed fraud they should be indicted, shamed, extradited to America, tried and sent to long terms of prison if found guilty. 

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