TOO BIG TO JAIL by Brandon L. Garrett
Kirkus Star


How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations
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Garrett (Law/Univ. of Virginia; Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong, 2011, etc.) presents research on criminal behavior by corporations in the United States and overseas.

According to certain statutes in U.S. law, corporations can be treated like individual people. However, attempting to prosecute corporations for criminal behavior is much more difficult than prosecuting individual defendants for nearly any charge. Garrett, who previously focused on wrongful convictions of individual murderers and rapists, examines prosecutors who have decided to charge corporations with crimes—or decided against it, even though victims abounded. Since no government agency or private group has collected reliable data about prosecutions of corporations by the federal government, state governments or county-based district attorneys, Garrett describes how he developed a database, as well as the holes in the data. He finds that federal prosecutors, despite their vaunted powers, are cast in the role of David, not Goliath, when seeking to punish multinational corporations with nearly unlimited budgets to hire lawyers. The prosecutors courageous enough to mount cases against corporations fail to go after high-level individuals within those corporations, lessening any deterrence effect. While Garrett is mostly pessimistic about the ability of prosecutors to reduce corporate crime or to properly compensate the victims, he does find a few promising minitrends. These include trying to alter corporate culture through deferred prosecutions and asking judges to appoint objective monitors to oversee corporate practices. The author finds unique hope in the prosecution of Siemens (ranked in the top 50 of the Fortune Global 500 list of largest corporations in the world), which admitted wrongdoing and seems determined, under current leadership, to act ethically while maintaining profits originally thought to emanate in part from bribery and other unsavory activities.

Garrett combines groundbreaking research with clear writing and moral outrage.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-0674368316
Page count: 372pp
Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2014


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