“’Opponents of white collar criminal prosecutions argue that corporate managers should not be charged criminally for regulatory violations because health, safety, and environmental rules are too complex to understand and violations of such arcane requirements do not cause real harm,’says Rena Steinzor, author of Why Not Jail? Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction.
“’Both arguments are revealed as hypocritical by the criminal prosecutions of three drivers who had fatal accidents as a result of a defect that the manufacturers’ executives covered up. All of these accidents caused fatalities and the drivers were charged with versions of vehicular manslaughter or reckless driving. Only after suffering through great hardship and, in one case, two years in prison, were they exonerated by belated disclosure of corporate malfeasance. The cases are just the latest example of the double standard that prevails between street and white collar crime.’”
I wrote about this in a previous post, and I will repeat it here:
My grief is complicated by the many things which I have learned about highway safety and the growing awareness that, way too often, nobody really takes responsibility for the countless and potentially-preventable deaths which occur on the roads of our country year after year.
Until that May, I had never heard of an underride crash–too often due to an underride guard that did not prevent a car from riding under a truck and resulting in horrific injuries and deaths. Recently I have read many reports of the problems with defective cars and the fatal crashes which have occurred as a result. Who takes responsibility for these deaths? And when will they come to an end?
For example, here is a report on recent activity with GM recalls:
“. . . the company took its taxpayer-funded bailout agreement and turned it around on millions of consumers unlucky enough to own compact cars with ignition switch defects who had accidents before July 10, 2009, the date when the agreement became effective. Invoking a liability shield negotiated by the Obama administration,GM won a ruling from a bankruptcy judge that is now on appeal, avoiding billions in damages for injuries, deaths, and the lost resale values of vehicles with the defect. The judge took the view that when the ‘old GM’ went bankrupt, the ‘new GM’ got a fresh start, even though all but 15 of the executives and managers involved in the ignition switch fiasco remain ensconced in the company’s iconic skyscraper in Detroit. GM won this counter-intuitive relief even though areport it commissioned from former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas revealed that senior executives knew about the problem as early as 2005 but dragged their feet on notifying consumers until 2014. ‘Although everyone had responsibility to fix the problem, nobody took responsibility,’ he wrote.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rena-steinzor/gm-and-its-no-good-very-bad_b_7191124.html
“Why Not Jail? makes a compelling argument for criminal prosecutions of executives who tolerate noncompliance and endanger public health and the environment.’” http://www.acslaw.org/acsblog/white-collar-crime-and-justice