GROUP PUSHES FOR LIGHTER SENTENCES FOR WHITE COLLAR CRIMES
Families Against Mandatory Minimums has entered the picture for Americans convicted of fraud and other white-collar crimes. An advocacy group that has primarily fought strict drug sentences, has begun to shift their attention towards lighter punishment for financial crimes.
It’s been noted that sentences in cases of fraud, insider trading and other economic crimes are now and again inconsistent and excessive, says the advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM).
Lighter sentences for white-collar crimes have been an issue that many defense lawyers and some federal judges been trying to resolve. Unfortunately their efforts have been unsuccessful. This is due to the fact that consumer advocates along with Congress believe that more cases should have been brought against Wall Street during the financial crisis of 2007-2009.
Prolonged prison terms have resulted from dozen of these cases over insider trading by Federal prosecutors in New York and other districts.
Judges are still relying heavily on sentencing guidelines for consistency, even though they are advisory rather than mandatory. The guidelines are “mixed up and crazy” argue the advocates which can lead to weakened support for keeping them in place, said Ohio State University law professor Douglas Berman, a sentencing law expert.
Some examples include Matthew Kluger who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for passing tips about corporate mergers he learned of while working at U.S. law firms. This is one of the lengthiest prison terms handed down for insider trading. Another is hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam was ordered to serve 11 years in 2011 for his participation in insider trading.These jail terms are mostly tied to the financial losses associated with the crime. The more money in question, the more time in prison if convicted..
Using Rajaratnam’s case, the FAMM compared his harsh sentence to the average federal sentence for crimes such as manslaughter, sexual abuse, arson, and armed robbery. His sentence exceeded all those other crimes sentences. The group has testified before Congress and is looking for a more “comprehensive approach” so that more factors are looked at other than the economics.
The president and founder of FAMM Julie Stewart said, the existing guidelines “result in an unbalanced and inherently unfair system that is inconsistent with the principles of justice.”The Justice Department is opposed to extensive changes, but has said it was open to limited changes that could reduce some prison terms related to white-collar crimes.“There are many sentences that are wrong, or calculated in a way that create ridiculous sentences,” said Stewart.