Friday, January 9, 2009

Watch List: Time to Let Black Go?

Steve Maich has written an "an argument in favour" of the release of Conrad Black, but "not exactly in his defence." Maich also says the appeal of his argument is to "pragmatism, and perhaps to mercy," which are "essential elements of justice." Black should be released from prison "if not now, then soon" because "there is nothing more to be achieved from his incarceration" which is "a waste—of money" and "potential." How does Maich reach a conclusion so strongly at variance from the typical Canadian (according to polls)?

Well, why put anyone in prison? Maich observes:
Legal experts generally cite two key objectives in the punishment of white-collar crime: deterrence and retribution. Rehabilitation is mostly irrelevant because once you’ve been busted for corporate fraud, people generally won’t let you hold their wallet, much less run a public company. As for deterrence, there is little evidence to suggest that such a thing exists in cases of high-stakes fraud. It’s been almost 20 years since Ivan Boesky and his pals went away for their massive insider trading scheme, and it still happens brazenly every single day.
But Maich also says the Hollinger "debacle" is not fairly compared to Enron and WorldCom because it did not result in "massive job losses" or eat up "life savings." He also notes many of the "allegations" against Black "never made it to trial" and "most" of those that did resulted in acquittal. As such, the "gap between the prosecutors’ accusations and the jury’s convictions" was "huge." See more of Maich's arguments in the entire piece here.

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