Barry Pollack Quoted Regarding Disparity in White-Collar Crime Sentences in Vocativ

"Not All White-Collar Crime Sentences Are the Same Length"
Vocativ
08.19.14

Barry Pollack was quoted regarding the inconsistencies of white-collar crime sentences. The disparity of punishments across districts led the U.S. Sentencing Commission to recently announce that it would revisit federal white-collar crime sentencing guidelines as a priority in the next year. While the commission has increased sentences for offenses, creating very strict guidelines, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the guidelines were merely advisory and left to the discretion of individual judges. "What that has resulted in is a lot of inconsistency depending on which judge happens to sentence you," Pollack said. "If you have a judge who follows the guidelines -- even though they are advisory -- you are going to get an extraordinarily high sentence. Whereas, if you get a judge who thinks that the guidelines are too harsh, that judge might choose not to follow the guidelines." The result, he said, is that, "You have two people that commit two very similar crimes but then get wildly different sentences."

Historically, judges have taken into account the financial loss caused by economic crime. Opponents of the status quo would like to place greater emphasis on culpability rather than dollar amount, in the hopes of creating more lenient sentencing guidelines. "The sentencing commission is troubled by the fact that we are now seeing a lot of disparity in sentences, and really the only answer to that is to adjust the guidelines so that they don't produce results that are so draconian that some judges are refusing to follow them," Pollack said. "There are a number of different ways the sentencing commission could go about changing the sentencing guidelines, but the time is ripe because they have essentially priced themselves out of the market."

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