The selective enforcement of laws is highly based on multiple factors. For example, a violent criminal may be more likely than a non-violent criminal to have laws enforced in his case. This is primarily due to the overall perceived threat the violent criminal is to society. From this standpoint, it could be argued that society is more interested in deterrence in incarcerating the violent criminal.
Another reason that laws are selectively enforced deals with the strength of the case against the individual. Individuals without education may be more likely to confess to their crimes. Furthermore, these individuals may be more likely to have more evidence against them. In contrast, individuals with a higher socio-economic status are significantly more likely to ask for a lawyer and obtain private council. The use of private council is further significant, as the public defender is often overwhelmed with other cases. Although the United States Constitution grants each of the accused a right to a fair trial, the caseload of the defender may directly hinder this right. This is further evident as the public defender is more likely to have less time to work on the individual’s case when compared to a private attorney.
Similar to the comparison of violent and non-violent offenders, corporate crimes often go unpunished. As previously discussed, societal perceptions towards the type of crime and the victim directly affect how the laws are enforced. However, the way society perceives the media further influences crime. When turning on the news, individuals can often witness a host of crimes being enforced. These crimes tend to be more violent, and there fore are perceived ore of a risk (Brown, 2011).
There are other barriers that directly influence the corporate crimes from being enforced. One of the main variables is whether or not the company wants to report the corporate crime. In some cases, companies may be against reporting a crime, as this act has the potential to tarnish the company’s reputation (Brown, 2011). This could potentially deter customers from frequenting the establishment. Furthermore, this may affect the company’s brand image. In an era where customers are increasingly concerned about the safety of their information, reporting a corporate crime could have detrimental consequences for the business.
In determining why society appears content without incarcerating offenders, multiple standpoints can be used. From an economic standpoint, it is highly debatable whether or not states have the resources necessitated to incarcerate everyone that has committed a crime. Furthermore, the increasing costs of incarceration are problematic. As a result, many individuals may advocate against incarceration for non-violent offenders.
Another reason people tend to be against incarceration is that individuals in poverty are statistically more likely to be sentenced to incarceration (United Nations, 2013). Furthermore, this population is more likely to suffer from a mental illness that has not been treated, contributing to the likelihood he or she will be incarcerated. From one standpoint, it could be argued that individuals living in poverty and suffering from a mental illness may be more likely to assimilate into society if they are given the proper diagnosis and medical attention. However, in other cases, it may be hard for the individual to afford the continued cost of medications.
It should be further noted that many employers are against hiring an individual that has previously been incarcerated (United Nations, 2013). As a result of this stigma, individuals that have previously been incarcerated may have a harder time assimilating to society after their release. This increases the likelihood that the individual will reoffend, as there are few other sources of economic stability for the individual. These reasons, taken in conjunction help to demonstrate why society is generally against incarceration.
- Brown D.K. (2011) The Problematic and Faintly Promising Dynamic of Corporate Crime Enforcement. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 1 (1) 152-180.
- Prison Reform & Alternatives to Imprisonment (2013) Retrieved from: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/justice-and-prison-reform/prison-reform-and-alternatives-to-imprisonment.html