Corporate Crime and Theories of Punishment: Proposed Hide No Harm Act of 2015

business_ethics_highlights_2Corporate criminal law is ethically interesting, in part, where it intersects with normative theories of punishment. Normative theories of punishment attempt to both to justify punishment, generally, and forms or magnitudes of punishment, particularly. Here, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D–Conn.) and Bob Casey (D–Penn.) have introduced a bill that would expose a certain class of corporate executive to incarceration for failing to report corporate actions or products posing the threat of death of serious injury to federal authorities. Their legislative initiative appears to be motivated by the deterrence theory of punishment. It is an attempt to incentivize executives to report dangerous or deadly actions or products by changing the payoffs to executives of concealing information, thereby deterring concealment. It may be interesting to consider how the bill would be constructed differently if its authors were imbued with the retributive or the rehabilitative theories of punishment. >>>

LINK: New Bill Would Punish Corporate Execs With Jail Time For Lying About Deadly Products (by Ashlee Kieler for Consumerist)

Even though General Motors has acknowledged that more than 100 people died because the carmaker failed to fix defective ignition switches, the recent $900 million settlement with federal prosecutors means that not a single person at GM will see a day behind bars. A newly introduced piece of legislation hopes to hold corporate officers accountable when they conceal information about potentially deadly products.

The Hide No Harm Act of 2015, introduced by Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, would make it a crime for a corporate officer to knowingly conceal information about an action or product that poses the danger of death or serious physical injury to consumers or workers.

What do you think?


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One comment

  1. Worth noting that criminologists have as yet been able to find convincing evidence that deterrence actually *works* in cases of corporate crime.
    See also http://businessethicsblog.com/2015/02/25/does-the-punishment-really-fit-snc-lavalins-alleged-crimes/

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