Based on what you see in the FBI financial crimes report for 2010, do you think white collar criminals are largely escaping justice?
It is very difficult to make an informed conclusion on this topic because we do not know what the levels of white collar crime in the United States are. However, it does seem likely that many white collar criminals are getting away with their crimes.
There are at least two reasons for saying this. First, we can look at the numbers of pending cases reported in the document. For example, in Fiscal Year 2008, there were about 1200 pending cases of securities and commodities fraud. But this was at a time when the US was about to experience a tremendous crash caused in large part by instability in the financial sector. It seems likely that there were more criminals than the 1200 being investigated. The other piece of evidence that can help us make this conclusion is the difference between pending cases and convictions. In FY 2011, for example, there were 1846 pending cases in securities and commodities fraud but only 394 convictions had been obtained. Given that there were at least 1200 pending cases in each of the previous 5 fiscal years, this seems like a low number.
Second, we can think of the nature of white collar crime. This sort of crime is much harder to detect. It is often done very subtly or in very complicated ways that are not clearly criminal in the way that a robbery is clearly criminal. For these reasons, it seems likely that many white collar criminals are getting away with their crimes.