Letter to the Editor: Crime and punishment

Dear Editor:
When reading the crime and punishment section of my local newspaper (the business pages), I’m continually reminded of the gross inequities inherent in our criminal justice system.
Virtually every day there are reports of CEOs and directors of major corporations who are charged with fraud and tax evasion — on a grand scale.
More often than not, those charged with such offenses end up making a settlement or plea agreement. Usually, those agreements result in fines and/or monetary settlement of lawsuits that don’t even begin to compensate victims of the crimes. Moreover, having agreed to huge multi million-dollar settlements, there is usually a denial that there was any wrongdoing. To add further insult to injury, few are ever incarcerated.
If you hold up a convenience store and you’re caught, you’ll have the cuffs snapped on your wrists, get thrown into the slammer and almost surely will do time. If you are one of those “pillars of society” who unlawfully drain hundreds of millions from their companies and stockholders, cause job losses in the thousands and financially ruin many lives, you’re more apt to first die from natural causes than you are to spend any time in prison.
There seems to be a dual standard of justice in this country when it comes to theft: one for the landed gentry, one for the “common criminal.” Punishment should be meted out according to the gravity of the crime.
Paul G. Jaehnert
Vadnais Hts., MN