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In our last post, we discussed the need for federal and state legislators to consider reforming sex offender registries. This issue is urgent and the need for reform of these registries is well documented. However, sex offender registries are not the only punishment-related systems in need of an overhaul. Many are currently questioning whether sentencing approaches for those convicted of white collar crimes are in need of reform as well.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, both prisoner advocates and defense attorneys are insisting that the U.S. Sentencing Commission consider easing penalties for numerous white collar criminals. The commission has expressed interest in enacting such a reform for numerous reasons. Most recently, the commission opted to ease penalties for tens of thousands of individuals convicted of nonviolent drug crimes. It may be poised to ease penalties for an untold number of white collar criminals as well.

It is unclear in what ways the U.S. Sentencing Commission and the Justice Department will be willing to embrace reform. However, the commission seems to grasp the sense that many sentencing approaches for certain white collar crimes are too harsh.

If one of the purposes of the criminal justice system is to enact reasonable punishments, it has failed in its mission in regards to certain white collar crimes. However, it is possible that genuine reform could right this wrong within the near future. The question of whether white collar crime sentencing should be reformed may not be as clear as the question of whether sex offender registries should be reformed. However, it is a question worth exploring with urgency and seriousness of purpose, given that any disproportionate punishment is in need of sincere reform.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "Sentencing changes sought for business crimes," Eric Tucker, Aug. 13, 2014

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