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Ethics in Sentencing Research Paper

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Ethics in Sentencing
White collar crimes are infinitely more costly than street crimes and yet the legal
punishments meted out for them is minimal. This is in comparison to street crimes that have
more profound sentences. The disparity between the sentencing of white-collar crimes and street
crimes is wide hence generating various ethical issues. There are several ethical issues about the
sentencing of crimes, and this paper will address these issues and their resultant effect on the
community with specific examples.
Crimes are judged based on the effects caused by the misconduct to ensure the offender
does not repeat the offense in question. In the United States, sentencing guidelines are put in
place to help judges decide the severity of punishment while taking into account various aspects
such as the number of victims and a defendant’s past. An example of a federal guideline
involving white collar crimes is that bank fraud is punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment
alongside a maximum fine of one million dollars. Though judges are not entitled to follow the
guidelines, the guidelines ensure consistency and to some level a sense of fairness. From a 2017
case study, it was reported that the majority of federal judges ‘frequently sentence well below the
federal guideline’ (Benett et al., 2015).
A case that shocked many Americans was when Paul Manafort, President Trump’s
former campaign chairman was sentenced to only 47 months in prison having been involved in a
string of fraudulent activities that cost the Internal Revenue Service billions of dollars. Many
Americans viewed this as a brief sentence considering his actions. This serves as evidence that

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white collar crimes are not punished with the severity they deserve in comparison to their effects
on society.
The current sentencing of white-collar crimes as compared to violent street crimes is
marred in class and race discrimination A recent study from the US Sentencing Commission
report indicated that Black men in America receive 19.1% larger sentences as compared to white
men involved in similar crimes (USSC, 2012). Most of the white-collar criminals have high
societal positions with high education and income levels. The power they wild in their official
status makes them untouchable thus taking a long time before their actions come to light. Sadly,
class and race discrimination are among the reasons why the justice system is lenient on white
collar crimes.
Another reason why the sentencing of white crimes is lenient and at times zero could be
the misconceptions that people have about the seriousness of white-collar crimes. Despite
scandals in public corporations, such as Enron and the Bernard Madoff case, which raised public
awareness of the societal, economic and personal harm that results from fraudulent offenses, the
attention given to whitecollar crime still pales in comparison with that granted to streetlevel
crimes.
A possible reason for the leniency afforded to white collar crimes is their intangible
nature. One will always feel safe in their home and on the street even after the commission of
white-collar crime. With the public cases, a lack of awareness on the effects of white-collar
crimes on the welfare of the citizens is a contributing factor. Many people, especially those yet
unaffected by white crimes, do not know how much damage the white-collar crimes are
responsible for.

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Surname 1 Ethics in Sentencing White collar crimes are infinitely more costly than street crimes and yet the legal punishments meted out for them is minimal. This is in comparison to street crimes that have more profound sentences. The disparity between the sentencing of white-collar crimes and street crimes is wide hence generating various ethical issues. There are several ethical issues about the sentencing of crimes, and this paper will address these issues and their resultant effect on the community with specific examples. Crimes are judged based on the effects caused by the misconduct to ensure the offender does not repeat the offense in question. In the United States, sentencing guidelines are put in place to help judges decide the severity of punishment while taking into account various aspects such as the number of victims and a defendant’s past. An example of a federal guideline involving white collar crimes is that bank fraud is punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment alongside a maximum fine of one million dollars. Though judges are not entitled to follow the guidelines, the guidelines ensure consistency and to some level a sense of fairness. From a 2017 case study, it was reported that the majority of federal judges ‘frequently sentence well below the federal guideline’ (Benett et al., 2015). A case that shocked many Americans was when Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman was sentenced to only 47 months in prison having been involve ...
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