While there have been critics of those developments on both sides of the aisle, some good proposals for legislation, concerns raised by judges, and saber-rattling statements from the Department of Justice, what we have not seen is a plan for action that fundamentally rethinks how financial offenses are handled. The Clinton plan would do, among its recommendations, four key things to tackle too big to jail.
You know the statistic. We incarcerate a higher proportion of the population than any other country does. Hundreds of thousands of young, now aging, men, are doing hard time for possession of small amounts of drugs. More and more people find themselves in jail because they got caught with bench warrants for their arrest for exorbitant fines they could not afford to pay. More than a century after debtors prisons were abolished, thousands are again behind bars because of debts. But one category of felon is free on the street. I refer, of course, to corporate criminals. Consider the case of a checkout clerk at Walmart who puts her hands in the till and walks off with a couple of hundred bucks of the company's money. That clerk could expect to face prosecution and jail. Now consider her boss, who cheats her of hundreds of dollars of pay by failing to accurately record the time she clocked in, or the overtime she worked.