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By J. Kelly Strader
Professor of Law Southwestern University School of Law

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Strader, J. Kelly Understanding white collar crime / J. Kelly Strader. p.cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-8205-5531-2 (softbound) 1. White collar crimes--United States. I. Title. KF9350.S77 2002345.73’0268--dc21 2002073018

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Chapter 1, Introduction to White Collar Crime, is reproduced from Understanding White Collar Crime by J. Kelly Strader, Professor of Law, SouthwesternUniversity School of Law. Copyright © 2002 Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., a member of the LexisNexis Group. All rights reserved. A user is hereby granted the right to view, print or download any portion of this sample chapter, so long as it is for the User's sole use. No part of this sample chapter may be sold or distributed by the User to any person in any form, through any medium or by any means. Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION TO WHITE COLLAR CRIME

§ 1.01

Defining “White Collar Crime”

Criminologist and sociologist Edwin Sutherland first popularized the term “white collar crime” in 1939, defining such a crime as one “committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” Sutherland also included crimes committed by corporations and other legalentities within his definition. 1 Sutherland’s study of white collar crime was prompted by the view that criminology had incorrectly focused on social and economic determinants of crime, such as family background and level of wealth. According to Sutherland’s view, crime is committed at all levels of society and by persons of widely divergent socio-economic backgrounds. In particular, accordingto Sutherland, crime is often committed by persons operating through large and powerful organizations. White collar crime, Sutherland concluded, has a greatly-underestimated impact upon our society. Sutherland’s definition is now somewhat outdated for students of the criminal law. As white collar crime began to capture the attention of prosecutors and the public in the mid-1970s, 2 the term came tohave definitions quite different from the one Sutherland used. Indeed, studies have shown that crimes we generally consider “white collar,” such as securities fraud and tax fraud, are committed not just by persons of “high social status” but by people of divergent backgrounds. 3 Thus, although the term “white collar crime” is a misnomer, it continues in widespread use. This is probably so because“white collar crime” provides a convenient moniker for distinguishing such crime in the public mind from “common” or “street” crime.
1 Edwin H. Sutherland, White Collar Crime: The Uncut Version 7 (1983). Sutherland used the term in a 1939 speech, entitled “The White-Collar Criminal,” he gave to a joint meeting of the American Sociological Society and the American Economic Association. For afurther discussion of the definition of “white collar crime,” see J. Kelly Strader, The Judicial Politics of White Collar Crime, 50 Hastings L. Rev. 1199, 1204–14 (1999). 2 See William J. Genego, The New Adversary, 54 Brook. L. Rev. 781, 787 (1988) (“In the mid-1970s federal prosecutors became increasingly interested in white collar offenses . . . .”); Peter J. Henning, Testing the Limits ofInvestigating and Prosecuting White Collar Crime: How Far Will The Courts Allow Prosecutors to Go?, 54 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 405, 408 (“Beginning in the mid-1970s . . . the federal government began targeting white collar crime as a high-priority prosecutorial area.”). 3 See John Braithwaite, Crime and the Average American, 27 Law & Soc’y Rev. 215, 216–224 (1993) (reviewing David Weisburd, et al., Crimes of...
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