In recent years, corporate scandals such as those that occurred at Enron and WorldCom have brought a more focused spotlight on the issue of white-collar crime. Although white-collar crime has remained a pervasive part of social discourse throughout the course of the twentieth century, the presence of this phenomenon appears to have been exacerbated in recent years because of media attention. As a direct result of greater media attention, it seems as if harsher punishments for white-collar crime are now being handed down. Where once corporate executives and educated professionals could simply get away with white collar crimes, focused attention on those that commit these offenses has create a larger social climate in which white collar crime is not accepted.
Statement of the Problem
Arguably, the contention that while collar crime is not as socially acceptable as it was two of three decades ago is one that carries with it notable ramifications for understanding the evolution of both society and the criminal justice system in the United States.
[...] It is these specific ambiguities that have made it difficult for scholars to delineate a clear definition of the white-collar criminal. Perceptions of the White Collar Criminal Clearly, the challenges that have developed when it comes to defining white- collar crime are reflective of the social attitudes that have been developed about this subject. With this in mind, it is now pertinent to consider how social attitudes toward white-collar crime have changed and how these attitudes have impacted developing discourse on this topic. [...]
[...] By matching this with the sentences that have been handed down in white collar criminal cases, it will be possible to effectively relate the severity of the sentences to the public's attitude with respect to this issue. In the end a historic timeline for evaluating white-collar criminal activity and social response will be created. While this research will provide notable insight into the development of society and the criminal justice system, it is hoped that this data will be utilized for further investigation into quantitative aspects of the topic. [...]
[...] Dhami asserts that the negative perceptions that have been created in this context are a direct response to media attention given to white collar crimes in recent years (67). Methodology Based on the data uncovered in this investigation, it seems reasonable to argue that there is a dynamic interaction occurring between the media and the criminal justice system. As media attention for white-collar crimes increases, the impact on the criminal justice system appears to be more negativity toward offenders committing these types of crimes. [...]
[...] White Collar Crime and the Media The last issue that needs to be addressed in the context of this literature review is how the media has shaped modern understanding and perception of white-collar crime. Scholars examining this issue have been quick to note that the mass media has had a substantial impact on both social attitudes toward with collar criminals as well as the specific practices utilized by the criminal justice system to address white-collar crimes. Specifically, Nichols asserts that many Americans believe that the country is in the throws of a new crime wave perpetuated by elite businesses and organizations. [...]
[...] With this in mind, defining social response to white collar crime may require a critical examination and interpretation of individual action without the presence of criminal penalties. This may raise the question of whether or not an individual or organization's actions could be considered illegal or unethical given the social milieu. In short, past events with respect to white-collar crime will have to be examined in the context of current attitudes and polices on this issue. When framed in this perspective, the true challenge of understanding the development of white-collar crime becomes more evident. [...]
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