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Crimes of the Powerful and Brining Punishment Back

Crimes of the Powerful: Theories of White-Collar Crimes

Offenses of the powerful are often not reflected in official statistics, but the harm caused to society by white-collar criminals is enormous. It tenfold more than the material damage from other crimes, and the amount of moral damage cannot be overestimated. White-collar crime endangers the whole society and undermines the foundations of the existence of the state itself. Although researchers have not reached a unit decision on the causes of their crimes, I believe they both reflect the negative qualities of society and are strengthened by the factors indicated by Sutherland and its followers.

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Corporate crime is usually motivated by economic gain and enrichment. Thus, greed, high expectations, thirst for wealth, and other factors of behavior play a role in committing a crime. However, if minor criminals are pushed to offenses by life circumstances aggravated by negative personal qualities, then white-collar workers may have other grounds. An individual who commits a crime on behalf of the collective does not pursue personal economic gain but acts in the organization’s interests. As Sutherland claimed, finding himself in the world of business, the person feels less connected with other parts of society and begins to inherit the habits of the team (Lilly, Cullen, & Ball 2018). Moreover, the circumstances of white-collar work create a favorable environment for crimes and impunity. However, there are still some other factors affecting criminal behavior.

Some studies have found that the individual’s personal qualities also significantly impact the ability to commit white-collar crime. As Eaton and Korach (2016) prove, such qualities as narcissism, low self-control, and others are inherent in corporate criminals. Thus, all the factors influencing white-collar crimes are interconnected – their features and the pressure of society in the quest for success are aggravated by corporate culture.

Bringing Punishment Back In: Conservative Criminology

The prison sentence is one of the most common penalties in the modern world. It is one of the most severe forms of punishment since deprivation of liberty has a substantial impact on a person. However, in practice, there are many questions relating to the understanding of the nature, purpose, and content of imprisonment, which, in general, significantly reduces its effectiveness. Even though prison’s goal is the safety of society, it has negative consequences for it, increasing the deviancies of convicts and creating new sources of crime.

There are many people in prisons, together with increased aggressiveness and excitability. This factor complicates both their own punishment and the punishment of those who do not show such qualities. While the convicts must learn law-abiding behavior in society, they are isolated from this society. Moreover, the convict also has no reason to form a respectful attitude towards people, so he or she is among its best representatives. These factors indicate that criminals, after being in prison, will still be prone to crimes (Duwe, 2017). Moreover, they can establish ties in organized criminal activities and become even more involved in illegal business. Considering the significant financial waste on prisons that could be diverted to other purposes, imprisonment increasingly seems to be an ineffective tool and is losing its popularity.

The development of alternative forms of punishment can take place in various directions. For example, sobering centers are an effective alternative to imprisoning people exposed to alcohol and drugs. Jarvis et al. (2019) conducted a study of cases of placing people for treatment instead of imprisonment and noted positive changes in their behavior. After treatment, citizens sought ways to be law binding, as well as useful to society, and make their lives better.


Duwe, G. (2017). Rethinking Prison: A Strategy for Evidence-Based Reform. AEI Paper & Studies. Web.

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Eaton, T. V., & Korach, S. (2016). A criminological profile of white-collar crime. Journal of Applied Business Research (JABR), 32(1), 129-142.

Jarvis, S. V., Kincaid, L., Weltge, A. F., Lee, M., & Basinger, S. F. (2019). Public intoxication: sobering centers as an alternative to incarceration, Houston, 2010–2017. American journal of public health, 109(4), 597-599.

Lilly, J.R., Cullen, F.T., & Ball. R. A. (2018). Criminological theory: Context and consequences (7th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.

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