Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Proportioality in the Arithmetic of Sentencing for Fraud and Other Financial Crimes

I have argued that someone who steals $6 million is destroying a constructive economic life, or whatever the consensus value of life is being used. Therefore, the defendant should be executed, summarily, since there is no controversy about the amount.

What about stealing $850,000? That is about an eighth of a human life. If the life expectancy is around 80 years these days, the defendant should serve an eighth of a human life or 10 years. During that time, he should be as productive as possible at whatever occupation, make as much money as he can. Say, he makes $425,000 as a hedge fund trader from prison. He may repay that amount and have his sentence reduced by a half. This person is not being incapacitated because of his physical danger to others, but because of his lack of good judgment and morals. He should do well in the structured setting of the prison.

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