Corporate Character as a Basis for Criminal Sentencing

In the piece below, the authors tackle the question of corporate criminal punishment. In particular, they ask, what are our goals when we impose punishments on corporations? Because, after all, the goals we seek are likely to affect the methods we choose. In particular, they look at a novel suggestion that reform of corporate character is the right goal, and that tinkering with the corporation’s internal operations is the right method. The authors are skeptical of that idea. One possibility they don’t discuss: tinkering with internal operations might be the right method, as a means of altering future behaviour. But that doesn’t require that we accept the idea of “corporate character.” Nor does it require us to clearly differentiate character-based punishment from other motives for punishment.

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LINK: Assessing Corporate Character as a Basis for Criminal Sentencing (by Matthew Caulfield and William S. Laufer for Columbia Law School’s Blue Sky Blog)

What is the purpose or motivation of corporate criminal punishment? What kinds of punishments ought we impose? While such questions may seem lofty, they are important nonetheless. Strict pragmatists who reject the goal of developing penal theory and focus only on policies that might increase corporate punishment blind themselves. They accept that something must be done, but show little interest in the justification for and normative function of corporate criminal punishment. And they neglect a scholarly history that reflects little imagination and innovation…..

What do you think?


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