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Beyond the Law: Crime and Justice

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This collection explores structural incentives and disincentives to anti-social and unlawful behaviors and the roles of self- regulation, administrative agencies, and civil and criminal sanctions in shaping organizational behavior. Included are articles on organizational crime, the savings and loan industry, insider trading, industrial water pollution, garbage collection, and the nursing home industry.
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Editorial Reviews

John E. Conklin
This eighteenth volume in the distinguished Crime and Justice series is the sixth to be organized around a central theme. Six informative essays of uniformly high quality on crime in complex organizations are introduced by a ten-page essay by Albert J. Reiss, Jr., and Michael Tonry. John Braithwaite draws on his cross-cultural study of the nursing home industry to look at the way that state regulation in the United States has produced ritualistic compliance with the rules but frequent neglect of residents. Nancy Reichman explores the changes in the world of finance, especially in the exchange and use of information, that led to insider trading. Peter Cleary Yeager looks at the competing values involved in controlling industrial water pollution, and makes the important point that "regulatory law and compliance are so systematically intertwined that neither can be understood without understanding both" (p. 99). Peter Reuter shows how the reputations of racketeers have limited competition and driven up costs in the waste disposal industry in New York and New Jersey, largely through customer allocation agreements that have been ineffectively controlled by state regulators. Two papers, one by Henry N. Pontell and Kitty Calavita and another by Franklin E. Zimring and Gordon Hawkins, explore the crisis in the savings and loan industry. What is commonly called "white-collar crime" is in fact misnamed, because many discussions of such crime include offenses by individuals who are neither of high social standing nor respectable, two traits central to Edwin Sutherland's definition of white-collar crime. His definition also emphasized the "punishability" of white-collar crime, but many studies focus on behavior that is not criminally punishable and, in some cases, is not even the target of regulatory activity. Although Reiss and Tonry correctly observe that much of the literature on white- collar crime fails to distinguish violations of the criminal law from violations of administrative law, the essays in this volume also tend to blur this distinction, perhaps because the distinction is blurred in the real world of enforcement and regulation. Work on white-collar crime often has an ideological slant, both in the definition of what constitutes white-collar crime and in the way that the actions of individuals and organizations are studied. For example, as Reiss and Tonry point out, there is little work on the way that organizations are victimized by white-collar crime, and much work on the way that such organizations victimize others. Little in this volume corrects that imbalance; even the essays on the savings and loan scandal persuade the reader that the real victims of that crisis were depositors and taxpayers rather than the institutions themselves. Reiss and Tonry avoid using the term "white-collar crime," which they call "a plastic phrase that means many things in many contexts" (p., vii). They favor "an organizational and social system analysis" of the behavior of organizations over "the traditional criminological analysis of white-collar and organized crimes and criminals" (p. 10). The essays here do not examine the behavior of individuals but concentrate instead on business corporations and the markets and regulatory environments in which they operate; such white-collar crimes as Medicaid fraud by an individual physician and embezzlement by a solo attorney fall outside the purview of this volume. These essays pay little attention to the way that corporations are structured, focusing instead on the way that networks of corporations or markets are organized. The way that market structure and the legal and regulatory environment of a market are organized is then linked to what might be called organizational misbehavior, some of which is crime and some of which is not. The editors' disinclination to use traditional criminological concepts and theories risks segregating these essays from mainstream criminology. However, some of the authors do place their Page 72 follows: findings in the broader context of criminology. Yeager's paper ends with some insightful comments on the implications of Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi's general theory of crime for understanding the motivations and opportunities involved in environmental crime. Zimring and Hawkins' paper on the savings and loan crisis draws on traditional criminological concerns with the costs of crime, the role of ideology in interpreting the meaning of crime, and the way the individual and structural approaches compete to explain criminal behavior. Pontell and Calavita's paper on the savings and loan crisis points out that most of the institutions that failed did so because of criminal violations. Despite these efforts, most of the essays do not draw on mainstream criminology, probably because it has been primarily concerned with individuals rather than organizations and markets. Ideally, criminology would incorporate the kind of market analysis common to these essays, and those writing on organizational crime would link their work to the more general concerns of criminology. There is little effort to generalize beyond the individual case studies presented in this volume. Reiss and Tonry might have helped us here with a longer introductory essay or a postscript that offered some ideas about what general market conditions are conducive to organizational offenses. If there is something criminogenic shared by the world of finance, the cartage industry, the nursing home industry, and the savings and loan industry, it is not directly addressed in this book. A general analysis of the market conditions conducive to organizational crime might increase the chance that mainstream criminology would incorporate work such as that presented here. A starting point for bringing studies of crime in complex organizations into mainstream criminology is to focus on actual crimes by organizations, i.e., to return to Sutherland's emphasis on the punishability of the behavior under analysis. Some of the essays here are concerned with admittedly important behavior that is probably not criminally punishable, such as the unwarranted physical restraint of residents by nursing home administrators. The essays here offer something important in examining in detail the regulatory environments in which the various industries exist, and in showing how regulation affects the behavior of organizations and markets. Several essays add a time dimension, showing how changes in an industry and its regulation gave rise to criminal behavior; for instance, Pontell and Calavita show how the collapse of savings and loan institutions was the product of deregulation and the subsequent transformation of that industry during the Reagan administration. The explanation of how and why criminal behavior changes over time is often ignored by mainstream criminology, and it would gain much from incorporating the findings presented in these papers. In looking at the way that organizational misbehavior is redefined and changes over time, these essays make it clear that what is called crime or a regulatory violation is socially constructed rather than fixed, a point especially well made in Yeager's essay. One problem in defining crime in complex organizations that is not explicitly dealt with in these essays is the precise meaning of the term "organization." This volume focuses on crime and regulatory violations by businesses, formal organizations that have been deliberately designed to achieve legal goals, but which sometimes violate laws and regulations. Research on formal organizations, especially corporations, is rarely linked to work on criminal organizations in the sense of syndicated or organized crime, even though the federal RICO law has been applied to both corporate crime and Mafia-style crime in recent years. Yet a third meaning of organization is the social structure that sometimes emerges among offenders engaged in a criminal enterprise such as bank robbery or drug dealing. This broader meaning of organization treats some crime as an organized activity, whether it takes the form of a youth gang that has moved into the crack trade, the Mafia, or a group of investors who form a savings and loan institution. This way of conceiving of organization more broadly has the potential to bring together analyses of several types of crime that have long been of interest to criminologists: youth gang behavior, professional theft, syndicated crime, and crime in complex organizations. Page 73 follows: This valuable collection of essays adopts a narrower focus but admirably achieves its stated goals of obtaining "a better understanding of the motives and sanctions, the incentives and disincentives, and the structural influences that shape organizational crime," and illuminating "the diverse effects of self-regulation, industry regulation, administrative regulation, and criminal law approaches to eliciting compliance with applicable laws and regulations, discouraging illegality, and discovering wrongdoing" (p. viii).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226808215
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press Journals
  • Publication date: 12/28/1994
  • Series: Crime and Justice: A Review of Research Series , #18
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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