Corporate Crime and the Religious Sensibility
University of Michigan Law School
Punishment and Society: The International Journal of Penology, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 313-325, 2003
U of Michigan Public Law Working Paper No. 124
U of Michigan Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 08-016
Prosecution of corporations, for common law offenses such as homicide as well as for specially tailored statutory offenses, is now an established part of the administration of criminal law in the United States. Conviction is explicitly guided and justified by the retributive purposes of criminal law as much as the deterrent. Evidence of corporate mens rea generally focuses on calculated indifference to value in itself - indifference of the kind contemplated as the norm for business corporations in the economic theory of profit maximization - and corporate culpability and remorse are operative terms in sentencing. The ontology here of a responsible person irreducible to human individuals, or to a system, may connect this area of criminal law to religious thought in a special way. This area may also be where the retributive, with its recognition of responsibility and its opening to remorse, atonement and forgiveness, is most clearly articulated and justified. Positive duties are implied and creativity looked for in analysis. These developments are more congenial to a religious sensibility than to one that is purely secular. The broad acceptance of these developments may be made possible by the breadth of religious practice in the United States, and be evidence of contemporary influence of religious thought on legal thought, evidence indeed of basic connections between the two.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 14
Keywords: Corporation, business corporation, corporate law, corporate purpose, corporate person, organization, corporate responsibility, corporate stakeholders, criminal law, purposes of criminal law, retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation, corporate crime, corporate mens rea, corporate sente
JEL Classification: K14, K42, P10, P11
Date posted: October 7, 2008
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