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Sen. Warren Reports "Rigged Justice" for Corporations

A new report suggests that the nation has a two-tiered justice system  one for the rich and powerful, and one for everyone else. (Boardhead/Wikimedia Commons)
A new report suggests that the nation has a two-tiered justice system one for the rich and powerful, and one for everyone else. (Boardhead/Wikimedia Commons)
February 8, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – A new report called "Rigged Justice" by the office of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren maintains the nation has a two-tiered justice system – one for the rich and powerful, and one for everyone else.

The study highlights 20 cases last year where the government caught big companies breaking the law – defrauding taxpayers, covering up deadly safety problems, stealing billions of dollars from consumers and clients – and let them off easy.

In remarks on the Senate floor last week, Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, called out Republican efforts to make cracking down on white-collar crime even harder.

"In the 20 cases I examined, just one executive went to jail for a measly three months, and that case involved 29 deaths," she pointed out.

Warren was referring to a former CEO of Massey Energy convicted of willfully violating safety standards after a West Virginia mine explosion.

The study found that corporate criminals routinely escape prosecution, and fines were a fraction of annual profits, with some structured as tax deductions.

Russell Mokhiber, editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter, has documented white-collar crime for the past three decades. He says this is the first time a U.S. senator has exposed how cases are handled by the Justice Department.

"If you and I engage in criminal wrongdoing, most likely we're going to jail,” he points out. “But if corporations engage in criminal wrongdoing, most likely they get something called deferred non-prosecution agreements. So, it's crime without accountability."

Mokhiber says the solution doesn't involve changing existing statutes –prosecutors just need to do their job and hold powerful criminals to the same standard of justice as anyone else who breaks the law.

"We have to find the political will to criminally prosecute some of the most powerful entities in our society,” he insists. “And then we'll begin deterring this kind of wrongdoing, saving lives, saving tens of millions of dollars and living in a more just society.”

Warren has promised to make the study an annual report card on the Justice Department.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY